Now, this is how it’s done! If you’re a filmmaker looking to shamelessly steal from classic movies (I’m wagging an authoritative finger at you, James Cameron and Scott Stewart), the key is to make the movie wholly ridiculous and un-self-aware. Director Brenton Spencer and writer John Sheppard have done just that with their trash-terpiece, Never Cry Werewolf. This movie is, literally, Fright Night with werewolves.
I should preface this by saying that I saw the movie under unusual conditions. Typically, I like to be alone on first viewings, or at least in the company of people who will allow me to focus on the movie so as to be fair in my judgments. In the case of Never Cry Werewolf, I saw it fresh during a recent movie night at my friend Chad’s house (for the record, a double bill of NCW and Tod Browning’s Freaks is booze-and-pizza-party heaven). The laughter of the crowd and constant shouting of puns and mockery—coupled with the fact that one of the partygoers resembled an actor in the film—only enhanced the experience
The film is about a mysterious man named Jared Martin (Peter Stebbings) who moves in next door to a too-curious-for-their-own-good teen siblings Loren and Kyle (Nina Dobrev and Spencer Van Wyck). Jared takes an unhealthy interest in Loren, and she’s kind of hot for his chiseled features and oh-so-hot motorcycle; things start to go south, however, when hookers begin disappearing into Jared’s house. It turns out he’s a werewolf, and the only person who can help Loren defeat his plot to munch on the entire town is a washed-up television personality named Redd Tucker (Kevin Sorbo, continuing his legendary journeys in cheesy acting). Reluctantly, the two team up and head to Jared’s house, where he’s taken young Kyle hostage; thus begins an epic showdown where the fate of the world hangs in the balance.
If reading that gave you flashbacks to Tom Holland’s 1985 vampire classic Fright Night, congratulations on having seen a far superior film. There is so much wrong with Never Cry Werewolf that I could talk for at least an hour about its problems. But for everyone’s sake, I’ll just say that Kevin Sorbo is no Roddy McDowell and Peter Stebbings is no Chris Sarandon. The only one of the cast who remotely outshines their template actor is Nina Dobrev; I’m probably biased because I watch her new show, The Vampire Diaries, in which she acts a hundred times better than she did in this two-year-old movie. Seriously, it’s a wonder she got an acting job after NCW, let alone one as a series headliner.
Allow me to digress and talk about the perfect storm of shitty acting and writing that is Sean O’Neill as Steven. He’s Loren’s alleged love interest, and this movie’s version of Fright Night’s Evil Ed character. As written, he’s the shy punk kid who wants to get with the hot nice girl. As performed, it’s obvious that Steven would be more interested in bedding hunky werewolf Jared. It’s impossible to ignore the gay-best-friend vibe that O’Neill exudes; I’m not implying anything about the actor’s lifestyle, but if he wasn’t going for at least bi-curious, he needs to seriously re-think his professional calling. Of course, by the time Steven mutates into a werewolf/club-kid hybrid, I stopped considering his sexual preference and focused only on the laugh-out-loud glue-and-Play-Doh makeup he was buried under.
This movie also features the best worst CG effects I’ve seen in years, and that includes Sci-Fi (sorry, “Syfy”) original programming. The scene in the sporting goods store where a skinless dog attacks the customers is pure genius, simply because the beast looks like a glistening plastic toy. The practical effects fare even worse, as much of the wolf-head and wolf-hand puppets look like, well, puppets. Dobrev’s expression when confronted up-close by the werewolf is a testament to her ability to sell fear in the face of the absurd.
Never Cry Werewolf is cheap, derivative, and unapologetically Canadian. The filmmakers learned the first lesson in ripping off great art: get in, have fun, and get out in under ninety minutes. Had the movie dropped any of its key components—shitty dialogue, confused camerawork, creepy, amateur acting, or Kevin Sorbo—it would not have been nearly as thrilling. You can tell everyone tried really hard to make a kick-ass, original horror movie, but it just wasn’t in the cards for any of them. That’s bad news for fans of the werewolf sub-genre, but great news for lovers of hilarious, unwatchable garbage. You must see this movie!
Note: The movie contains an unforgettable line of dialogue that I am hoping to insert into the vernacular. If you could please help me spread the word and begin incorporating the expression, “Get on the planet!” into everyday conversation, you will be helping Kicking the Seat make the world a better place.