Marvel’s ‘Werewolf by Night’ Is a Terrific Mix of Old and New Cinema

Marvel Studios released “Werewolf by Night” on Oct. 7. This unique Marvel special tells the story of a group of monster hunters fighting for the ownership of the Blood Stone. This stone allows the holder to become the leader of the monster hunters. “Werewolf by Night” is based on a Marvel comic book series, released in 1972, of the same name. Many television franchises have holiday specials, including Halloween specials such as “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” This film felt like Marvel’s version of a Halloween special.

This film immediately resembles an old horror film. The title opening, the jarring music and the black and white are reminiscent of the first monster horror films such as “Frankenstein” and “Nosferatu.” These films were released around the 1930s, when “Werewolf by Night” was set. The group of monster hunters must fight a monster and each other to death for the Blood Stone. Two of our main characters feature Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly), the biological heir to the bloodstone, and Jack Russell (Gael Garcia Bernal), a hunter praised for killing a hundred monsters.

Courtesy of Marvel Studios.

When I was watching the beginning of this film, it was hard to understand its connection with Marvel at first, but the old horror cinematography was impossible to ignore. As the story progressed, the fighting between characters began. The choreography in the fight scenes was the first part of this film that reminded me that it was Marvel; they feel like superhero battles. As the film went on and the story unfolded, it began to progress from old school horror film to a modern Marvel film. It felt like taking a walk through film history. We find out one of the monster hunters is a werewolf and he is friends with the monster who is being hunted. The other hunters turn on him, and a fight ensues. 

 The CGI of the film is high quality, I’m glad they began with the old school cinematography but used modern special effects to create a high-quality production. An example of well-done CGI would be the monsters. There are two monsters we see on screen throughout the film. They do not look like men in costumes like we would see in the 1930s, but like the  monsters, we see in modern films. 

Courtesy of Marvel Studios.

Most of the film is in black and white. The only thing seen in color at the beginning of the film was the Blood Stone, the object of desire for the characters. By the end of the film the rest of the scenery changes from black and white to full color, when Elsa Bloodstone holds the Blood Stone. The last shot is fully in color, and the credits appear in classic Marvel fashion, with modern music. If I had only seen the end credits I would be sure it was a superhero film. 

In only 55 minutes, “Werewolf by Night” tells a compelling story from start to finish. The ending felt open-ended enough to continue the storyline if the writers desire, but it also felt closed enough to not leave untied ends. I had doubts about the short length, but Marvel has once again delivered in ways I did not expect. With the number of superhero movies that exist in the Marvel franchise, “Werewolf By Night” is a nice change of scenery and pace. I would be tuning in weekly if this one-time special turned into its own series. This is not confirmed but it is a hope I possess. 

 “Werewolf by Night” has a 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and can be streamed on Disney+.

By Meyshia Lantz

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