28th Aug2021

Frightfest 2021: ‘Are We Monsters’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Charlotte Olivia, Jathis Sivanesan, John Black, Stefan Chanyaem, Justin Hayward, Kyle Menzies | Written by Seb Cox, John Black | Directed by Seb Cox

Are We Monsters is an intriguing title and one that drew me into the movie before I knew anything else about it…. The film sees werewolf hunters trying to find other ways to control the werewolf population with the final silver bullets all used up. Meanwhile a young female werewolf, Maya, is trying to understand herself, her history and her possible future before time runs out.

I have to admit that I’m not the biggest werewolf movie fan. That’s not to say I don’t like them, there have of course been plenty of good movies about them. Dog Soldiers, An American Werewolf In London, The Howling, The Wolf Man and Howl are just a few from the genre that I have very much enjoyed. But often, werewolf movies tread a similar path and that’s perhaps why there’s not that many of them made, not compared to other horror sub genres anyway. Werewolves clearly aren’t as popular as zombies or ghosts.

So it’s good to see new directors try new stories involving werewolves. Of course a coming of age werewolf tale isn’t completely unheard of, there’s clearly at least a small influence from Ginger Snaps but Are We Monsters no doubt stands on its own.

There’s an opening fifteen minutes or so that start the movie of brilliantly. The first sight of the ‘werewolves’ (more on why it’s ‘werewolves’ later) is very effective and genuinely scary. It’s all really well shot and lighting that helps with what I assume are low budget effects. Dark enough that you’re not quite sure what you’re witnessing but light enough that you see something. When the scenes pick up the pace, things become frantic and it has an almost found footage-like style that helps with the scares. It’s a shame that the rest of the movie doesn’t quite live up to this beginning.

Now, on the werewolves themselves. This isn’t the traditional look of the creatures and instead we see more human-like monsters with elongated necks and limbs. It sounds strange and it is, especially as this is a werewolf movie but it does work. Seeing these things run and chase the characters is at times terrifying.

For the conclusion of the movie a different style of CGI effect is used and it’s not quite as effective. I’m honestly not quite sure whether I liked it or hated it a day after taking it in. It’s something completely different and not something I’ve seen used before but if I told you it was almost children’s cartoon-like on top of live action, you can probably understand why not everyone will love it.
There’s actually another style used throughout the film that works better, as we are shown the history of werewolves in animated scenes with the story being narrated by characters in the moment. This part I really enjoyed.

Are We Monsters is far from perfect – the acting is inconsistent, it’s often predictable and sometimes tries too hard to be different. But, the story-based werewolf movie has its moments of gore and makes you care about its characters. There is plenty to enjoy and at less than eighty five minutes, the time flies by. For werewolf fans this is an absolute must-see.

*** 3/5

Are We Monsters screened today as part of this years Arrow Video Frightfest.


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