And the horror binge continues.
I can’t remember where, but I saw the trailer for Howl not long ago and was instantly intrigued. I’m a fan of the “strangers stuck in a place” conceit, and this one’s set on a London train that breaks down in the middle of a dark and stormy night with a small group of characters on board.
There’s the ticket inspector, the food cart operator, an elderly couple, a teenage girl, a middle-aged woman, a middle-aged sleazeball, and so on and so forth. We’re talking about a cast of around 10 people. Only a few of them know each other, and the rest are standoffish strangers in mostly bad moods.
Of course, as the title suggests, there’s something howling in the surrounding woods, and it’s out for fresh blood. Sounds kinda interesting, right?
The lead actor looked extremely familiar to me, but I couldn’t recall his name or where I had seen him until I looked it up. Ed Speelers…does that ring a bell? And no, I have not seen Downtown Abby, so it’s not from there. Think back to 2006; a fantasy story about a boy and his dragon before How to Train Your Dragon came along.
Yes, ladies and gentleman. If you ever wondered what happened to the kid who played the titular character in Eragon. The film was supposed to be the next Harry Potter at the time but got panned by critics despite moderate financial success (US$250m box office on a US$100m budget). Still, surprised they didn’t make a sequel.
I digress; Ed Speelers is pretty good in this as the hapless ticket inspector turned reluctant leader of the pack, but unfortunately, Howl burns through its positive aspects pretty quickly before resorting to a bunch of horror tropes. It’s a campy monster flick that has very few scares, especially after the monster appears, and the laughs are virtually non-existent.
It’s one of those movies that make no sense whichever way you dissect it, from the actions and motives of the characters to that of the monster. Everything is manipulated to conveniently fit the progression of the script, including the sudden stupidity of the characters who dies and when and how it happens.
There’s a time and place for enjoyable campy horrors and guilty pleasures, but Howl falls short of both thresholds.
2 stars out of 5