Flexing totally different muscular tissues, Marvel’s “Werewolf by Night” is a nifty Halloween-timed particular designed as a black-and-white homage to the Universal monster motion pictures of the Thirties and ’40s. Told with wry humour whereas tapping into unexplored quadrants of comics lore, it is a bit too gory and scary for youthful youngsters however a present to followers that raises enticingly monster-ous prospects.
A brisk 50-ish minutes, this system assumes a good quantity of comic-book information and hits the bottom working, with an meeting of monster hunters introduced collectively to compete for the Bloodstone, a supernatural artifact. Guided by the widow (Harriet Sansom Harris at full tilt) of monster slayer Ulysses Bloodstone, the group should vie to earn the prize in a contest that might flip them from predators into prey.
Those available for this macabre Hunger Games embrace Jack Russell (Gael Garcia Bernal), who followers will instantly establish because the werewolf of the comics. He’s pursuing a really totally different agenda — and because of Man-Thing, one other Marvel character from the early Nineteen Seventies, not the one monster unleashed. (Notably, Marvel’s latest diversifications from that period have yielded a blended bag, with “Shang-Chi” faring higher than “Eternals.”)
The hunters additionally embrace Bloodstone’s estranged daughter Elsa (Laura Donnelly, including to her butt-kicking resume after HBO’s “The Nevers”), who covets the stone regardless of dangerous blood along with her stepmother.
The undertaking was directed by prolific movie composer Michael Giacchino, who adorns it with a splendidly florid musical rating, and the occasional flash of pink to reinforce the atmospheric black-and-white imagery. Clearly, this was meant to attraction to these for whom werewolves evoke fond recollections of watching Lon Chaney Jr. lope via misty moors on the late-late present and Frankenstein fleeing from peasants with pitchforks.
As famous, this should not be confused with kid-oriented fare, and whereas the cinematography blunts the bloodier edges, it is geared toward a extra refined palate, in a lot the best way DC’s direct-to-Blu-ray animated motion pictures adapt materials with extra grownup sensibilities in thoughts.
If the particular represents a modest experiment — Marvel’s method of prying open the vault to a darker pressure of horror-tinged content material, because the studio absorbs its Netflix and Fox’s offshoots and Disney+ widens its requirements — then it is a savvy calling card. Seen in that mild, in truth, “Werewolf by Night” may very well be the daybreak of an intriguing new day.
“Werewolf by Night” premieres October 7 on Disney+.