Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Review: Attack of the Werewolves

Attack of the Werewolves (Lobos De Arga) is a Spanish comedy horror written and directed by Juan Martinez Moreno. It is set in a remote village called Arga, where a 100-year-old curse troubles the residents. Our protagonist Tomas (Gorka Otxoa) is an unsuccessful writer who travels from Madrid back to the small village, which he hasn’t visited since he was fifteen. He is the male descendent of the ruthless Marchioness of Marino, his great-grandmother, who forced herself on a gypsy knife thrower and became pregnant with his son. She then destroyed the camp where he lived and killed all of the men, women, and children. The gypsy’s wife put a curse on her, which caused her son to transform into a werewolf.

The villagers of Arga have invited Tomas back to receive an award, and he thinks it will be a good place to do some more writing. At first he is welcomed with open arms, but things aren’t what they seem. The locals want to sacrifice him to lift the century-old curse and rid themselves of the terror that has haunted and hunted them for years. According to the legend, if a male Marino is eaten by the creature exactly 100 years after the curse was inflicted, the village will return to normal. If not, an even worse curse threatens to befall the residents.

Tomas is captured and thrown down into the tunnels beneath the village with his publisher Mario (Secun de la Rosa). Calisto (Carlos Areces), his childhood best friend, searches for them with the help of Tomas’ loyal dog Vito. Tomas discovers the werewolf down in the dark and barely escapes it. The group then have to flee from the villagers while also trying to figure out how to put a stop to the dangerous curse.

Attack of the Werewolves is atmospheric, chilling, and also really funny. There are a number of humorous scenes in the film, like the villagers getting confused about the curses, Tomas trying to get a phone signal, and the group’s unconventional attempts to lift the curse. The comedy horror includes nods to classic werewolf films such as An American Werewolf in London and The Wolf Man, which obviously provided inspiration for Juan Martinez Moreno.

I love werewolves and they don’t get as much focus as other horror monsters such as vampires and zombies. Attack of the Werewolves is the best werewolf movie I’ve seen since the brilliant Dog Soldiers, which is one of my favourite films. It has great physical make-up effects rather than crappy CGI beasties and is very tongue-in-cheek but with an effective Wicker Man-style tone. It also has solid performances from the main cast (including the adorable dog), who play very likeable characters. The film is suspenseful, with a well-structured story, and good-looking locations. It does a great deal with its limited budget and pays homage to legendary genre movies while providing a fresh take on the werewolf film.

[DVD screener provided by flickfeast. Review originally posted here]

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