A unique entry in Toronto After Dark’s film festival has its Canadian premiere at Scotiabank Theater this evening, the Polish film Werewolf.
Filled with shades of Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Werewolf shows the horror of war, the deconstruction of our humanity by the most brutal cruelty man has ever known, the Nazis and their concentration camps, and the rediscovery of compassion and our own morality, reclaiming it from the animalistic nature the characters exist in.
The story follows a group of children who as the end of the Second World War draws near finds their concentration camp being eliminated and emptied. They are left to survive, relocated to a remote mansion (instead of an island) amidst the forest and hope for the arrival of the Allies.
The moody, atmospheric piece takes each of their children on a journey as first crushes are hinted at, but like all other human traits, are unable to be expressed beyond that of an animalistic nature.
That nature is also reflected when the dogs from the concentration camp show up, vicious, terrifying and trapping the children in the house, without water, without food, without hope.
The film is dark, but with a human heart that longs to be rediscovered, and Panek deals the story out smoothly, investing the audience in the character arcs and the horror of the situation.
This is a unique film to be featured in the After Dark film festival and one that is most welcome here. It may not be what the festival crowd thinks it is, or the usual fare that one might expect from TAD, but it is a powerful, well-crafted film that explores humanity, the horrors of war, ourselves, our natures and the reclamation of things lost.
If you’re looking for something smart, unique, and a different manner of horror, then make sure that you get down to the Scotiabank and take in this powerful film. It may not be as bloody, or scare filled as you would expect to find in a film featured in this, my favorite of film festivals, but it is horrific and troubling on a whole different level, which is what the Toronto After Dark film festival is all about.
That, and of course, the rediscovery of one’s humanity.
Werewolf is screening this evening at the Scotiabank Theater. What will you be watching After Dark?