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Howl (Blu-ray Review)

Howl 2On a dark and stormy night the last train out of London comes to a sudden halt deep in the middle of a forest. After the driver ventures out to investigate and never returns, the passengers are in a state of panic – particularly after seeing the driver’s mutilated body outside the carriage. Realizing there’s something dangerous lurking in the forest, a ticket-collector, Joe (Ed Speleers), tells the passengers to make barricades to secure themselves in the carriage, but soon the deadly creature is stalking the besieged train and smashing through their defenses, picking them off one-by-one. Joe rallies his ‘pack’ of passengers to fight back. During a vicious battle they manage to kill the creature, revealing it to be a hideous mutated fusion of human and wild animal – a werewolf. However, celebrations are cut short when they hear more howls coming from the forest…

 

Howl

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When a train out of London crashes out in the countryside miles from the station a group of stranded passengers and crew must do everything they can to survive their ordeal. What starts out as an accident soon turns out to be their undoing as werewolves that seem to inhabit the forest rip this group of unlucky folk to shreds one by one.

That’s pretty much it in terms of story. A group of London passengers derail into the woods and werewolves attack it and kill those on board one by one. Again, this is one of those films that don’t have the best cover art but the fact that the crew behind The Descent‘s special FX make-up would be behind the werewolves FX make-up more than sealed the deal for me.

The were wolves are plenty and they resemble a wolf man mixed in with the vampires from the first From Dusk Till Dawn film complete with saggy anatomy giving these lycanthropes the appearance of botched experiments. Early on though, we get to see whom we will be rooting for on the human’s side of things. We’re introduced to several passengers that are complete jerks that we will wish sweet werewolf death upon in addition to some cool and shy train conductors/employees that we will want to escape unscathed. Pick your sides!

Howl is a neat horror picture overall but my only complaints that drag the score down a bit are that we are not given an origin story or explanation as to where the werewolves come from. It’s a very self-contained horror film that takes place in one location and that’s it. It works on the surface but I needed a bit more depth. Granted, what we do get is a hairy good time. I enjoyed the bloodletting, which was graphic, extreme, and best of all: PRACTICAL! The only CGI enhancements to the wolves were the lower legs but everything else was traditional.

Here’s hoping that Howl gets a sequel, because I want to know more about the mythology set up in this film. Director Paul Hyett has an accomplished special make-up effects background and handles directing duties on Howl with an assured hand. The sense of impending doom and dread are at the forefront of Howl and it’s one of the better werewolf films that I have seen in recent memory. No, it’s not groundbreaking, but it is entertaining and gory fun. Give it a go and see for yourself!

 

Howl

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Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: Howl looks decent enough on Blu-ray. I would guess it’s to hide the low budget-ness of it all. Contrast and sharpness levels are fine, and I only picked up on a few patches of over processing.

Depth: The film has minimal CGI effects used to enhance the environments and those are the most noticeable scenes. The mist and cloud cover tend to look very fluffy.

Black Levels: The film takes place at night 99.99 of the time and those scenes, reserved for the outdoors and darkened train interiors don’t crush.  

Color Reproduction: The color palette is fine but rather muted whenever the train car lights aren’t lit.

Flesh Tones: Everyone looks nice and natural unless they’ve been severely injured or are a beast.

Noise/Artifacts: The overall look of the film was glossy – shot on the digital side of things, but I did not notice any anomalies that would hinder the overall look.

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Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH. Spanish

Dynamics: Howl is an aggressive beast in terms of audio quality. It will literally bash your head in and rip you to shreds…in a good way.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer channel handled every loud crash, growl, and snarl that it was thrown. The LFE on this Blu-ray shake you out of your seat!

Surround Sound Presentation: The rear channels handle the ambience and you will hear plenty of discrete rumblings back there without drowning out the front.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue levels are outstanding.

 

Howl

Extras 

Howl comes with a 25-minute making-of featurette broken down into smaller featurettes focusing on different aspects of the film. Cast and crew talk about the werewolves, production design, and even color grading. It’s not a bad featurette and runs along at a steady pace. It’s presented in high definition, as well.

  • Making-Of

 

Howl

Summary  Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0

Howl is an above average horror and werewolf flick – we have so few dedicated werewolf movies of quality out there that it’s utterly refreshing to someone come through and make a decent film about them. The Blu-ray features great video and audio specs, with an above average making-of featurette. I hope Howl does well on Blu-ray & DVD, because I want to explore the counting mythology set up in this film. I heartily recommend it!

 

Howl is available on Blu-ray & DVD!

ORDER NOW!

Howl

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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