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Cinema/TV, Film Notes

FrightFest review – Howl

Howlhowl-trailer

 

When a late-night train is stranded in the countryside, the passengers and crew are terrorised by a pack of werewolves who lope out of the forests.  Paul Hyett’s second film as a director (after The Seasoning House) is an old-fashioned British horror film which has some elements in common with the psycho-thriller Last Train as a group of disparate types are menaced on a drab, down-at-heel British train.  Joe (Ed Speleers), a downtrodden guard who didn’t want to take this shift, finds himself notionally in command after the driver (cameoing Sean Pertwee) gets slaughtered and has to cope with variously angry, inept, shifty or helpless passengers  with only services trolley girl Ellen (Holly Weston) for help.  Among the disaster movie types offered for sacrifice to the beasts are a sexist and ruthless business guy (Elliot Cowan), a tired businesswman (Shauna Macdonald), an obnoxious teenage girl (Rosie Day), an older  couple (Duncan Preston, Ania Marson), a fat drunk football fan (Sam Gittins), a kid who knows about engines (Calvin Dean) and a bespectacled nerd (Amit Shah).  Screenwriters Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler – who have previous credits on the Thomas the Tank Engine franchise so probably count as train-spotters – go for a mix of soap and comedy among the squabbling, doomed types and there’s a sense of budget limitations meaning we don’t get the storm which has knocked out the rail network or have suspense scenes with the monsters attacking a speeding train  – both of which the film would benefit from.  The creatures have a slightly different, shaggy-human look and aren’t shown too much, though they’re in the pack with the Britflick lycanthropes of Bad Moon, Dog Soldiers and Love Bite (ex-Eragon Speleers’ last  wolf encounter).  It’s an unshamed B picture, but fun.

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