Following a group of child holocaust survivors whom inhabit a nearby home and must overcome hunger, thirst, and bloodthirsty dogs, Werewolf is the latest movie by Polish director Adrian Panek.
The synopsis alone bursts with originality. Horror films set around World War II are hardly new, but most within the genre fall in to a large group of straight-to-DVD schlock. This new blend of genre and setting seems to allow for a break away from such schlock.
The film opens in 1945 during the evacuations of the concentration camps, with Nazi soldiers killing POWs on sight and feeding them to dogs – anything to assure they are gone by the time enemy soldiers arrive. In one of the cabins are a group of children. Unsure of what to do, they perform exercises, usually commanded to them by the Nazis, and remain so lost that they continue to do them until found in the morning. Once found they are liberated and sent to be cared for in a nearby home.
Within the first few days it is clear something is amiss; dead bodies are found in the woods, there’s a vague sense of being followed, people are being attacked. It is all very mysterious and seems to be building up to something big. It is precisely this that spells the beginning of the end for the movie.
What is being built up never comes, or at least not in as big a way as one would expect. There are multiple hints throughout the film that werewolves are present: the children speaking of myths of Nazi soldiers turning in to werewolves, the extent to which bodies/injuries are found, and the general mystique behind something we had already seen in the opening scene. But instead the big pay-off never really arrives and the entire set up is ruined, feeling genuinely foolish.
This one mistake creates something of a metaphor for the entire film. Different ideas come in to play, but never really pay off. It feels like a first draft of the script was given the OK and filmed as is. It creates a complete tonal mess, one that even the finest cinematography and acting can not hide.
Werewolf had a lot of potential in its idea alone, but poor directing and especially poor writing let it down.