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Monday, 25 April 2016

Monster Movie Of The Week: Howl (2015)


Downtrodden ticket collector Joe (Ed Speleers of Downton Abbey and Beowulf: Return To The Shieldlands) is browbeaten into working a double-shift, overseeing the last crosscountry train out of London late one night.

The only ray of sunshine for him is the presence of Ellen (Hollyoaks' Holly Weston), manning the snack cart.

The weather's miserable, fogs setting in, rain is lashing down, but everything is otherwise quite mundane, until the train hits something on the track and grinds to a halt in the middle of nowhere.

The driver (a nice little cameo from Sean Pertwee) gets out to see what's happened and promptly disappears.

The handful of passengers left on the train are, unsurprisingly, unhappy about this situation and talk Joe into opening the doors so they can walk to the next station.

Soon after they all set out, Joe and Ellen stumble over the driver's dismembered corpse and everyone flees back to the relative safety of the train carriage, pursued by 'something' (it's a werewolf, not really a spoiler as the film's called Howl and director Paul Hyett makes sure we realise all this is happening on the night of a full moon).

The bulk of the action then unfolds within the railway carriage as the passengers barricade themselves in and try to fend off their monstrous attacker.

Howl is elegant in its simplicity. It's what Joe Bob Briggs would call a "spam in a cabin" movie, although in this case the cabin is on wheels and delivers the meat to the monster, rather than the monster coming to the cabin for dinner.

The supporting cast - which includes a few recognisable faces such as Da Vinci's Demons' Elliot Cowan as a skeevy yet charming businessman, The Smoke's Sam Gittins, Spooks' Shauna Macdonald, and Victoria Wood regular Duncan Preston - go through some interesting character arcs, but this is a brutal film that deals death and dismemberment to both the deserving and the innocent.

The script, from Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, makes excellent use of the claustrophobic atmosphere of the railway carriages which certainly adds to the jeopardy. I can't think of another horror film that uses this set-up.

Howl's take on werewolves is visually interesting as well, giving them a look that is kind of classic but with a heavy dose of Wrong Turn mutant and Descent troglodyte.

There's no messing about with Howl, we get about 10 minutes or so to introduce us to Joe and his working life, then, wham, it's straight into the train crash, werewolf attacks, and blood and guts for the next 75 minutes or so.

It's a great British horror movie, using a very British scenario (late night trains, disgruntled passengers, bad weather etc), that ticks all the right boxes for an enjoyable, sit-back-and-relax monster movie.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the heads-up on this one. Gonna try to find it through the usual channels.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem. I hope you enjoy it. Howl is a solid little British horror flick.

      Delete

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