"It's like a Syfy Channel movie with extra gore," is precisely how my friend, colleague, and astute schlock aficionado Peter S. Hall described the latest "direct-to-video" horror flick from Universal. "Does it seem like the movie has any connection to the Benicio del Toro remake of The Wolfman?", was my next question, and for that answer I had to watch the movie. Short answer: no. Louis Morneau's Werewolf: The Beast Among Us has no connection to Joe Johnston's The Wolfman. What we have here is a very broad, very obvious, and very low-budget piece of anachronistic period-piece horror silliness that, while peppered with familiar faces and (as Pete mentioned) enthusiastic moments of gruesome gore, amounts to little more than a goofy trip to Romania for a visit with some werewolf hunters that don't actually hunt werewolves all that frequently.
The over-plotted and broadly written screenplay is overstuffed with subplots and extraneous characters, but here's the basic gist: a village has been besieged by a werewolf who seemingly has the power to kill on any given night, regardless of how full the moon might be. While this is obviously a ludicrous idea to the werewolf purists, it gives Werewolf: The Beast Among Us a small nugget of novelty. Not only is this pulpy, silly affair a monster movie and, partially, a mystery story, but the werewolf hunters make it almost seem like an ostensible superhero saga. One is a tough-talking cowboy type, another is a suave British rake who wields dozens of throwing knives, and of course one of the crew is a lovely lady wolf-stomper who wields a mean crossbow and wears a bite-proof corset.
Clearly we're not talking about high art here.
Director/co-writer Morneau (veteran of DTV titles like Carnosaur 2, The Hitcher 2, and Joy Ride 2) manages to use his Romanian location to somewhat solid effect (the same cannot be said for the Romanian actors), and with folks like Stephen Rea, Ed Quinn, Nia Peeples, and Steven Bauer on hand, it's tough for a movie like this to ever feel truly dull, but there's only so much rope one can give a quick, cheap, dumb little monster movie before it starts to hang itself. The Beast Among Us suffers from being both over-plotted and choppily constructed, and it certainly doesn't help that the central plot (about an aspiring doctor who longs to team up with the wacky and colorful band of werewolf hunters) is the least interesting thing about the package.
Thanks to some simple yet appealing characters (or, more appropriately, caricatures) and some action scenes that make up for in brief energy what they lack in consistency, Werewolf: The Beast Among Us manages to avoid being a complete b-movie misfire, but you'll have to slog through some tiresome stuff to find the few morsels of amusing weirdness. In other words, it's junk, but you've seen a whole lot worse. Like many of those SyFy Channel movies.