It seems like I just finished reviewing Charlie Steeds’ Vampire Virus and his next film A Werewolf in England arrives. That’s his fourth film to be released this year after An English Haunting and The Barge People. Charlie, I love your films, but give a guy a break.
Parish Councillor Horace Raycraft (Tim Cartwright, The Legend of Mordred) is transporting Archie Whittock (Reece Connolly) to court. There, after a fair, and fairly short, trial he’ll be hung for murder. He claims self defense, he killed a werewolf who turned back to its human form when it died. But in Queen Victoria’s England everyone knows there’s no such thing.
A storm forces them to take shelter at The Three Claws, an inn in the middle of nowhere. Innkeepers Martha (Emma Spurgin Hussey, Sacrilege) and her brother Vincent (Barrington De La Roche, Blood Moon, Winterskin) welcome them. By morning Councillor Raycraft will have a different opinion about the existence of werewolves. If he survives.
Vampire Virus saw Steeds try his hand at shooting highly stylized scenes and A Werewolf in England has a couple of firsts for him as well. Set in Victorian times it’s his first real period piece. It’s also his first attempt at comedy.
As a period piece A Werewolf in England mostly gets the look right. The Three Claws has a stained-glass window that looks a bit to modern. And when you get a good look at them, the handcuffs look like modern bondage gear rather than vintage police issue. But given the budget he had to work with, he’s done a good job.
The humour is mostly of the slapstick and gross out variety. Somebody getting an accidental golden shower, a werewolf with diarrhea, ridiculously over the top “scared” reactions. Thankfully, he doesn’t overdo it like Exorcism at 60,000 Feet did. That kind of humour wears thin after a while.
This also does not mean that Steeds downplays the horror. A Werewolf in England starts out in the vein of films like Motel Hell or The Folks at Red Wolf Inn. Then the werewolves turn up and promptly rip a head, complete with spine attached, off.
The werewolves are, thankfully, actors Sam Lane (Deadman Apocalypse, The Barge People) and Derek Nelson (The Haunting of Margam Castle, Pandamonium) in suits built by US creature designers Midnight Studios. We don’t get to see an actual transformation but suits themselves are impressive. Equally impressive is the gore on display here. There’s more than one decapitation, eye removal, and a severed arm with a mind of its own. It’s a siege in the style of Dog Soldiers, and almost as good.
Those defending the inn include Minnie (Jéssica Alonso, An English Haunting) ,a hooker, Jane (Natalie Martins, Solar Impact), a single mother on the run from her baby’s violent father (Natalie Martins, Solar Impact) and Reverend Pankhurst (Mark McKirdy, Electric Man). Also watch for Kate Davies-Speak (The Summoner, Dead House) in a brief appearance as one of the pack’s snacks.
After a run of films like Werewolves of the Third Reich and The Snarling, British werewolves needed a film like A Werewolf in England. It’s a fast paced, gory and funny good time. High Fliers has released A Werewolf in England in its home country. Hopefully other territories will follow shortly. You can check the film’s Facebook page for updates.