The concept is an exciting one blending the quality of a period costume drama with the terror of a werewolf stalking prey film. The result is highly commendable if not entirely successful. The blending of genres could obviously be a tricky thing to pull off but director Gans does this as well as could be expected. There are moments when the horror film fans will be wishing that the trials and tribulations of the ladies weren't examined in such detail, but, like Hammer at their very best, the period setting not only lends some sort of 'respectability' to the horror but anchors it in the real world, albeit one we are not overly familiar with.
The much talked-about fight scenes that have our heroes, led by kickbox champion turned actor Mark Dacascos, leaping around and slugging it out in slow motion fighting in torrential rain storms and mud baths make for some truly thrilling moments of cinema. Whether or not such sequences are entirely in keeping with the experience of folk in 18th century France is something those missing the point entirely are welcome to debate. I, on the other hand, was just happy to watch great fight choreography, combined with dramatic photography for a rare change and treat. The titular beast works best when kept off-screen or its exposure is kept to a bare minimum. The tension and terror created too follow the same rules. Once we get to see the beast in all its glory, the competent CGI never quite meets our imagination and the creature looses something in the process.
The success of this French language, period horror movie at the international box office (released in Canada in an alternate cut that adds 10 minutes) gives the heart hope that others will be inspired to take a few more risks. Perhaps, in place of countless horror movies that have stupid American teenagers getting mangled by deranged lone men, we will get some imaginative, creative, intelligent and exciting fantasy cinema instead. The Brotherhood of the Wolf ably throws down the gauntlet, let's hope there are more than one project out there willing to take up the challenge. 7/10
An American Werewolf in London
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