22nd Oct2015

‘Wer’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: A.J. Cook, Sebastian Roché, Vik Sahay, Stephanie Lemelin, Simon Quarterman, Brian Scott O’Connor, Camelia Maxim | Written by William Brent Bell, Matthew Peterman | Directed by William Brent Bell

wer-dvd

It’s not often you can sit down to watch a werewolf movie and say you were truly surprised by what you saw. I think the last time I can recall feeling the same way was upon seeing Ginger Snaps for the first time. But I can honestly say I was totally surprised by Wer. Even more so given that this film was written and directed by William Brent Bell, the man behind the godawful found footage horror The Devil Inside!

When something slaughters a family camping in the French countryside, the freakishly large and powerful Talan Gwynek (Brian Scott O’Connor) is arrested for the crime. While as his public defender Kate (A.J. Cook) argues his case, she begins to suspect he’s suffering from a rare medical condition that causes physical abnormalities. But as they begin the tests, Kate discovers his truth is far more monstrous that she ever imagined…

Interestingly, given that this is billed as werewolf movie there’s not a lot of werewolf action. At least at first. Instead Wer builds its tale in the style of a classic murder mystery thriller – the story focuses on whether or not Talan is guilty and, even more importantly, whether this entire case is a set-up by the French authorities. At times it’s more like watching a John Grisham novel brought to the screen than a horror movie! Wer even shys away from using the word “werewolf”, instead Kate and her team suspect Talan has a medical condition that explains his freakish appearance, using that to describe the man-mountain rather than werewolf. It’s not until very late in the film, when all hell breaks loose that Kate and her team even contemplate that Talan is possibly a monster of historical folklore.

Yet is for that reason – that the film ignores the stereotypes and cliches typically found in werewolf movies – that makes Wer so fantastic. It’s also because it treats the audience, who are undoubtedly going to be genre fans for the most part, as intelligent. Horror fans know the tropes of the werewolf movie, there’s no need to bash us over the head with explanations about werewolves, how they can infect others or how to kill them, we KNOW this. And the filmmakers know we know. When Wer does eventually explain/hypothesize what’s happening it also feels real – Kate and her team discuss lunar cycles and how it has been known to affect epileptics and other quas-scientific explanations, not ridiculous horror-movie cliche theories that we typically see.

ThankfullyWer is also the kind of movie that puts the fear back into the werewolf genre; managing to keep the audience in suspense throughout the film, by balancing an intriguing legal story with an “is he or isn’t he” werewolf tale. Easily making this the best werewolf movie in a over a decade.

**** 4/5

Wer is out now on DVD from eOne.

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