21st May2018

‘Carnivore: Werewolf of London’ Review

by Andy Stewart

Stars: Ben Loyd-Holmes, Atlanta Johnson, Gregory Cox, Molly Ruskin, Ethan Ruskin, Matthew Bancroft, Adam Logan, Yana Penrose, Dani Thompson, Shaquille Taylor, Adrian Blake, James Ayling | Written and Directed by Simon Wells

carnivore-poster

I love werewolf movies. I really do. The struggle between man and the beast within is a timeless idea and one that, told well, can truly be a thing of beauty but the werewolf movie is a tricky thing to pull off. Sometimes, such as in the case of stone-cold classics like An American Werewolf in London or The Howling, they get it just right and it works. Other times, such as in the case of the “sequel” to the best werewolf film ever made or something like Underworld films, it’s a heartless mess of CGI where that idea is simply lost.

Personally, as a film-maker myself I have no qualms in admitting that the idea of making a werewolf film scares the absolute bejesus out of me and for no other reason than I truly believe that getting your creature right, getting your transformation right, is ultimately the thing that will save or sink your project. So I suppose some credit has to be paid to filmmaker Simon Wells for having a crack at it with his film Carnivore: Werewolf of London but to say that he swung a little wide of the target would be an understatement.

Look, I get it. There’s clearly a budgetary restriction at play here which is fine and might even make the whole endeavour that little bit more admirable still but it’s bad. In fact, it’s really bad and, unfortunately, the film’s failings don’t end with the titular monster.

The title Carnivore: Werewolf of London is a bit of a misnomer. If you’re going into this one charmed and excited by the cover image of a roaring, salivating werewolf towering over Big Ben and expecting some hairy carnage on the streets of the Capital, then you, my friend, will be disappointed. In fact, the film is simply bookended by fleeting, throwaway scenes in London which are pretty much as far as it goes. So, if you want to see some folk mauled unconvincingly in a carpark in the last ten seconds of the film, then you might find something in this.

The story, such as it is, revolves around Dave (Ben Loyd-Holmes) and Abigail (Atlanta Johnson) as they set off for a weekend retreat at a house in the middle of nowhere (it’s presumably very close to London, given the title, although the homeowner’s accent would place it elsewhere).

A few extremely uncomfortable sex scenes later, the duo find their romantic weekend interrupted by a lycanthropic home invader, hell-bent on peering in the seemingly impenetrable windows at them but otherwise, posing no real threat as long as they stay indoors. Spoiler: They never do. They’re running in and out of the house constantly.

Which brings us to the real meat of the problem. The script. It’s just dreadful. It’s filled with every werewolf and home invasion cliché imaginable from intermittent phone signals that can only be overcome by going outside, drained car batteries and flipped circuit breakers, continuing through to the hackneyed “reveal” of the creature’s identity that anyone with even basic exposure to a film like this will see coming immediately.

It’s completely devoid of a single original idea and I say that without hyperbole.

The leads struggle gamely through but the fact that they are both extremely bad actors detracts from any sympathy they may have wrought from me. Johnson, British, affects a dismal and baffling American accent throughout as a plot device when it would have been far more engaging and believable to simply have her use her own accent. Or hire an American?

Carnivore: Werewolf of London works at its best in the dark. In those torchlit moments, when the lights are out. The moments in the woods. It’s here and only here that the creature is passable. Again, I do offer a slight olive branch here out of respect for the filmmakers choosing a practical creature but the first rule of any practical effect is shoot it right, conceal what doesn’t quite work and to remember that darkness hides a multitude of sins. When it’s a fleeting glimpse or it’s out of focus I can almost get excited about the creature.

Then we see it.

While there is a puppet head, what we have here is a man in what looks like a shop bought gorilla bodysuit, topped with a bad Halloween wolf mask, with lifeless, glowing eyes. It’s “zipper up the back” bad. Barney is a more believable dinosaur than this is a werewolf. It verges on being funny. In fact, a few times I found myself wondering if this was supposed to be a comedy, especially as Dave runs around for the majority of the bloated run-time, brandishing his chosen weapon of a rolling pin.

I didn’t like this film. That’s not to say I don’t admire the ambition of attempting to make a werewolf movie on an extremely low budget. It’s not an easy thing to pull off with millions of pounds at your disposal and I actually don’t think it’s the worst werewolf film I’ve ever seen but it’s certainly close.

Carnivore: Werewolf of London is set for UK release on 30th July, courtesy of High Fliers Films.

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