11 May 2012

THE HOWLING: REBORN/2011

I am an older guy. I am 53 now and at this age one learns how precious some things are that he may have, or most likely certainly did, take for granted when he was 23 and still invincible or 33, or hell, even 43. But at 53 one’s mortality peers back at him in the mirror each morning. Gad, it’s a shocking and sobering feeling at times. So one also come to value time in as s fleeting and special, and you really do look back on the past with regret that you did not do this or your did that. So when one has 92 minutes of his life stolen that he can never get back there arises not only a feeling of anger and frustration but of deep and dire despair as well. And that is the quandary I often find myself watching horror movies anymore, and this film is an excellent example of what I once enjoyed about horror films and what they has become that makes me feel the watching of one only serves to bring me 90 or so minutes closer to my own demise.

The 1981 film The Howling by Joe Dante was and still is one of my favorite horror films. I recall being about a mere 22 years old and sitting stoned and a little drunk in the back of an old Cadillac drag racing a Mustang down SW Zarzamora Street in San Antonio Texas (back when you had a better chance of riding down that street and not get shot or stabbed than you do these days) and the water pump blowing out in our car. It all got fixed and we still made it to the theater in time and had a great time. The original Hollowing was filled with clever dark humor and sometimes subtle and sometimes hammer over the head references to older werewolf films. Far from a perfect movie but pretty darn near a perfect horror film. But what happened next always confused me and it really says a lot about me as horror film buff. The film spawned a long series of sequels that, I assume, only got worse and worse as each one came out. I believe it made it up to The Howling 7 and each one had another tiles, like Freaks or The Marsupials, or something. I have never seen any of them. I rented The Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf and watched about 10 or 15 minutes of it and popped it out and never troubled myself with another of the franchisee. Until now.

I watched this the other night on some sort of streaming TV program here in China called PPTV. So I did not spend any money on it and at first thought I might get into it. I knew it was not going to be a great flick but I assumed it was some sort of modern reboot or remake of one of my favorite horror films ever and it could not be that bad. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I forget that modern does not translate into better most of the time. In fact I almost feel I have written too much about this turkey. It is still stealing my life from me, but I feel I have to do this, to issue a warning to those who are considering seeing this. All I can do is fall on my knees and beseech you “Don’t! Don’t do it! For the love of God listen to me!” This is one of those films where during the final quarter or so of the film I am actually groaning out loud and moaning “oh come on!” to myself. This is as bad as a film can get for me if I decide to continue to watch it. I will let you know in a paragraph or two what I was groaning in misery about, although there were more than a couple groan producing attributes to this sorry excuse for a werewolf film.

Daniel Radcliffe lookalike Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron) is going though all the Twilightesque teen angst all teens go through now in dealing with their vampire, warlock or werewolf issues. When I was growing up the big deal was whether or not a kid from a working class family would go on to college or go into the military. Simpler times. Now kids have to decide if they want to marry shiny vampires or how to carry on a relationship with the drug popping, ass-ogling school prima donna while facing that fact that along with his raging hormones he is also a raging lycanthrope. Add to that he has issues with the fact his mother died when he was born (or did she? Ooohhhh!) and his dad is still all whiny about it 18 years later (but he puts it behind him and finally takes off his SILVER engagement ring and gives it to Will) and all he has accomplished so far in life is helping the school get 2nd place (and a SILVER trophy with a pointy little top that has “I’ll be back in the picture later” written all over it) in the debate contest and soon we can understand poor Will’s pouty, brooding expression and dire, existential ramblings. Okay, no we can’t. We don’t want to. Who cares? We want him to end his pathetic life and maybe in doing so end the film as well, but no, he goes on and so does the movie.

For some reason he likes the less than charming Eliana Wynter (Lindsey Shaw). She is rude and arrogant, and dates the school jerk for some stupid reason she rationalizes later. Said school jerk of course does not like Will and picks on him big time. This is called a set-up for Will’s big get even scene later that seems like it was going to be a redoing of the same sort of scene in the first Spiderman film, except the get even scene in Spiderman was well shot and a bit funny, while the one here, well, was pretty lame and stupid. Lacking any humor or even enjoyable action. What we do learn is that in Highschools the bullies can carry guns and pump off rounds I the stairwell, get themselves killed by being tossed screaming down the stairwell and never have the police or school faculty get involved or ask questions. Not only that, but you can just leave the gun on the window sill and come back and get it later in the movie when you need it.

There are really too many gaps and holes in this film to begin picking them apart. It is just one goofy thing after another. There is the pack of werewolf “Lost Boys” who walk down the hall in slow-mo with their shirts open glaring menacingly at everybody they pass. There is the not dead after all mom who has become the alpha-wolf leader of the pack and wants hers little Willy to join. There is… ah… that’s about it I think. Oh, not there is Will’s pal Sachin who aspires to be the tallest midget in the circus and become a great horror film director is supposed to provide some comic relief, but instead is just one more infected tooth in a mouth full of gum disease and cavities. Nothing can relieve the pain except the removal of the entire head.

Oh, I wanted to touch on the thing that drove me the most nuts, and caused me to groan out more “oh, come ons” than anything else. While all of this is going on we have to listen to Will constantly waxing philosophical with the most lugubrious collection of angst driven desiderata you ever going to encounter. The narration is done in such a serious and solemn tone that it is unbearable. I found a couple quotes from a site online (as I was not going to rewatch the film to get one myself) whose author shared my feelings about Will “Nietzsche’s” incessant and dismal introspections. Over and over we treated to moribund rubbish like this:

You know what we do? We let moments pass, opportunities pass, our lives pass.

We’re always at our most monstrous when we ignore our humanity.

Oh, that is deep stuff man. This drivel goes on and on and is no consolation for the fact that the film is well over halfway over before we even get some fleeting glimpses of a werewolf. Maybe the filmmakers were thinking “oh, don’t show the monster too soon, that is bad filmmaking” or some such crap they read on the Internet on some site about “how to make a monster movie”. I would much rather have seen a werewolf right off the bat as disappointing as they ultimately were) than to listen to senior high school graduate Will “Heidegger” piss and moan about how unfair his life is and how much he knows about human nature at 18 years old. Not to say 18 can’t know all about life. They seem to from what they say all over the net, but I just did not like this character, his girlfriend or the villains or anything about this movie, including the slow, depressing pop-rock songs and terrible special effects. I may rewatch the original The Howling here this weekend and try to reclaim my lost 90 minutes of life.












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