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I totally expected writer/director Joe Nimziki’s werewolf-related love story “The Howling Reborn” to be a complete waste of time, and I’m happy to report that I was not disappointed. I was ready to abandon ship after the first fifteen dismal minutes. However, had I bailed then and there, I would have missed the picture’s grand finale, a sequence so inept that I almost want to recommend it to people just so they can see how genuinely awful it is. Bad movie fanatics will have a field day with this one, I’m sure, and, given the right audience, it might play well with a few inexpensive bottles of alcohol and lots of calorie-encrusted junk food. This feels like something that should have premiered on MTV, perhaps after a very special episode of “Teen Wolf”. It makes sense.
Based on the novel “The Howling II”, the story revolves around an unremarkable high school nerd named Will Kidman, a lonely, slightly pathetic lad who spends a lot of time drawing pictures of the girl he secretly adores. When this saucy little vixen unexpectedly invites him to an underground party, he can’t believe his virginal ears, though his evening soon takes a horrible turn for the worse when he’s pursued through the sewers by a large animal. The next day, Will begins to notice strange things about his body, starting with the fact that he no longer needs his glasses to see things clearly. What’s more, the cut on his neck is healing much faster than normal. In typical horror movie fashion, our hero comes to the abrupt conclusion that he’s transforming into a monster, which, of course, isn’t too far from the truth. Is his mysterious girlfriend somehow linked to these peculiar changes, or does it have something to do with his mother’s untimely demise?
The cast, which includes Landon Liboiron (“Terra Nova”), Lindsey Shaw (“Pretty Little Liars”), and Ivana Milicevic (“Casino Royale”), somehow manage to do their best with the material, though Liboiron and Shaw are the clear standouts. All of the major problems I had with the film come directly from the script. The leaps in logic are ridiculously astronomical. Kids are murdered in school without anyone batting an eye, firearms are discharged in the hallways without alarm, scores of people from all walks of life mysteriously vanish without a trace — there’s rarely a second that goes by when you’re not questioning the actions of whoever happens to be on-screen at the time. However, some of these WTF? moments are downright hilarious; I had to resist the urge to obsessively re-watch the film’s geeky hero attempt to revive his high school sweetheart using live electrical wires from an elevator. I haven’t laughed that hard since “The Crow: Wicked Prayer”.
Perhaps the biggest offense the film commits is skimping on the the bloody, werewolf-related carnage. Almost all of the violence takes place off-screen, a testament, I think, to the film’s limited budget. The make-up effects, meanwhile, are akin to someone shaking a cheap supermarket Halloween mask in your face while growling in stereotypical lycanthrope fashion. When we do get an opportunity to see the wolves in action, the camerawork suddenly becomes annoyingly erratic. Nimziki understands that the rubbery suits look horrendous, and he tries his best to keep you from getting a good look at them. Sadly, the audience can see every sorry little detail. The handful of poorly-executed fight scenes lumped towards the end of the picture are beyond pathetic, and would only impress someone who’s never seen a werewolf movie before.
One can’t help but wonder if Joe Nimziki’s remarkably bad reboot would exist were it not for the “Twilight” franchise. There are so many similarities to the iconic vampire series that it’s almost embarrassing, especially when Nimziki goes out of his way to bash the movies for no identifiable reason. None of this would have been a problem, of course, had the filmmakers paid careful attention to other areas of the film. Unfortunately, we’re not that lucky. At the end of the day, this is just another sad attempt to cash in on the romantic teenager horror craze that’s profitable at the moment, nothing more. And while the flick is occasionally hilarious for all the wrong reasons, these fleeting moments do not warrant a recommendation. For added enjoyment, skim through the behind-the-scenes featurette and marvel at just how seriously everyone is taking this project. This thing is about a deep as a puddle of urine in a pool hall bathroom. Joe Nimziki, it would seem, is having quite a laugh at your expense. My advice: Save your money and avoid the joke.
Joe Nimziki (director) / Joe Nimziki (screenplay)
CAST: Lindsey Shaw … Eliana Wynter
Landon Liboiron … Will Kidman