Okay, so I wanted something light and possibly stupid. We all do when we re-enter civilisation and try to adjust back to a certain degree of normality with the hope of a few new and better habits (Forget New Years Resolutions folks, going to another country for about 2 weeks does a much better job. Especially with a journal, a sun rise, an energy drink, and a balcony to enjoy it all at 5am). So what is this you might ask? It’s Red: Werewolf Hunter, a Syfy Channel TV movie that is currently available on netflix & was released on Devil’s Night 2010 (October 30th). I expected little, and took it as an opportunity to not have to think too much while viewing. What’s it like? Is it terribly good? Maybe…lets find out.
So what’s our story? Well, it revolves around a young woman named Virginia (played by Geek Icon Felicia Day), who works within law enforcement as some sort of agent. Her nickname is “Red”, which is a name passed down through the family. Why Red? Because it’s a reference to Little Red Riding Hood…i.e. Her family are descended from Little Red Riding Hood. On the day of our story, she decides she wants to introduce her new fiancé, Nathan (played by Kavan Smith) to the family, who are all Werewolf Hunters, including Granny. Shortly after arriving, a dying man approaches Nathan while everyone else is in the house – the dying man utters the word “Gabriel” before dying and then turning to ash like a Vampire in Buffy. His bracelet indicates that the dying man was the peacekeeper between the Werewolves and the hunters (and a werewolf himself). So, within 10-15 minutes of starting the movie, Virginia tells Nathan the family secret – “We hunt Werewolves”. Finding it hard to believe and needing fresh air, Nathan, like an idiot, takes a walk through the woods at night (After hearing about Werewolves!), were he runs into Gabriel (played by Steven McHattie). Nathan witnesses Gabriel’s transformation, gets beaten unconscious, and then he is turned into a werewolf – a secret he keeps from Red’s family as much as he can. For the rest of the story, Red’s family seek to kill all of the werewolves, but particularly Gabriel, the 1 who can change without the full moon, and end the war.
Now to blow this movie down and suggest if the disguise was convincing enough (See what I did there?).
While there are plenty of people appearing in this film, the only actors in it who have any real experience are Felicia Day (Red) Kavan Smith (Red’s Hubby) and Steven McHattie (Gabriel, the main antagonist). Outside of these 3, but particularly outside of Day and McHattie, the acting sucked. McHattie plays a good antagonist who could have been emphasised much better with decent camera work and lighting. As for Felicia Day, in my opinion, she’s a very underrated actress, and probably the sole reason this movie is watchable.
The characters were mostly underdeveloped, and had the potential to do what both Underworld and Buffy The Vampire Slayer did well – but that wasn’t accomplished. They carried a plot, and that was about it.
The Story was very flawed, but both the concept and some story choices were interesting and rather risky. The writing wasn’t good, and everything felt really rushed. The execution of the story was also terrible. One thing I will say though – I like the silver tag gun, which gives a non-lethal dose of silver to see if someone is a werewolf by whether or not they will transform half way. It’s a good idea. Also the idea of Red Riding Hood having a linage…also a good idea…but it works better on paper.
In terms of Editing and camera work, but especially editing – it’s really bad. It’s some of the worst editing I’ve seen. As far as camera work was concerned, it’s clear that they didn’t even have Joss Whedon’s budget to hire stunt doubles for what had the potential to be decent fight scenes. The camera work tried to hide the lack of actual fighting skill or stunts, but it more or less failed.
The filming locations, though limited to a handful of sets (Red’s house, the Town, Gabriel’s lair & the forest) were actually very well chosen. The background was very nicely chosen, but limited. It suggests that all of the werewolves in the world live within a 5 mile radius, which for some, might be the case. The family home was a great choice and the abandoned town was nice and grungy.
The CGI are what you would expect from a Syfy movie – like mixing pre-2010 PS3 era Video game characters with real people. The practical effects were pretty good, and much better than the CGI.
The music was mostly generic for horror movies, and not memorable.
In terms of humour, this film actually took itself pretty seriously, which is very different to most other Syfy movies, but somehow the tone felt acceptable. You appreciate the attempts at seriousness, rather than groan at it.
Would I recommend Red: Werewolf Hunter? Not necessarily. If this movie was made by a bunch of friends and then put on Youtube, it would be seen as really good despite the writing, story and most of the acting. One thing I will say though – It’s better than Buffy The Vampire Slayer…no, not Buffy the awesome cult TV series, I meant Buffy the studio-diseased movie that came straight out of a time capsule from 1991. If you go into this film with low expectations, you might be pleasantly surprised by what actually worked well in it (Primarily the location choices, Day’s acting, some story elements and the special effects). But at the same time, so much brought the overall grade of this TV movie way down. If you like Felicia Day, then it becomes watchable. And that’s it.
Acting: ** (***3/4 from Felicia Day)
Story Concepts: ***
Practical Effects: ***
Overall: * (*1/4 from Felicia Day’s acting)