Toronto After Dark – Game of Werewolves – Juan Martinez Moreno

Somehow we’ve reached the end of this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, it went QUICK!

The film that closed out the event, and who’s trailer did not do it any justice at all was Game of Werewolves, a delightful little horror-comedy, though placing it after a Simon Pegg comedy may not have been the way to go.

The film opens with a series of almost comic book like art, that set me in mind of the EC comics like The Vault of Horror and Tales From the Crypt, with a wonderful narration telling of the origin of a curse that turned a rather evil woman’s child into a werewolf, and how the village was given 100 years to break the curse, before a second curse was delivered.

Pretty sweet.

I was a little frustrated that screen time was wasted less than a half an hour later to retell most of the story.

Tomas (Gorka Otxoa) is a struggling writer, who is returning to the village of his birth to receive an award recognizing him as a local boy makes good. The real reason is kept from him though, he’s there to be sacrificed to a trapped werewolf so the village, on the eve of the 100th year, can finally break the curse.

Dancing between comedy and horror like a flamenco dancer. There’s a wonderful little jump scare as Tomas, and his loyal dog Vito are wandering the old family home, and he’s telling a tale about a witch in a wardrobe, that is alternately hilarious and jump worthy.

Vito, an adorable dog with lots of character is severely underused in this film, he could have been a mine of comedy, but more often than not gets shoved to the side, perhaps it’s because he steals every scene he’s in.

When Tomas and his ‘agent’ escape the werewolf, having to use a corpse as a ladder (AWESOME!), the creature is set loose on the town, to prowl and kill (with some fun kills – but again could have been exploited more).

When the 100th evening is breached, Tomas, his childhood friend, his ‘agent’, his Gram and Vito find themselves in a town overrun with werewolves as the villagers all turn, the new curse.

It’s a fun film, and the creature effects and kills are nearly all practical, which is a nice change from a lot of the horror films nowadays, and it put me in mind of a cross between the early Universal monster movies and Hammer films, a very good thing, but could have been punched up a little more.

There’s a lot of fun bits, none more enjoyable than after capturing the first werewolf, Tomas and his fellows try to figure how much of his blood and flesh is needed to break the curse, and wonders if maybe a finger will do it… So he gives up a couple in a brilliant sequence.

It could have been more, it almost verged on a Hardy Boys (or even Tintin – if you cast Vito as Snowy) meets the Wolf Man, and that would have been a delightful route to chase down because the film truly wants to be all out fun, but stumbles a little.

By no means a terrible film, but feels like it just didn’t realize its full potential as a horror-comedy.

You can find more Game of Werewolves here, on Facebook, and Twitter.

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