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Marvel's 'Werewolf by Night' packs in effective storytelling, scares in its short runtime

Gael García Bernal stars in the short but spooky "Werewolf by Night" as the eponymous werewolf. – Photo by WerewolfbyNightUpdates / Twitter

Marvel’s newest film “Werewolf by Night” is a captivating homage to the classic monster movies.

Directed by acclaimed composer Michael Giacchino, the film is just under an hour, having no need to be stretched out like the recent Disney+ projects. The length of the film allows viewers to not only stay interested but also feel as though they haven’t wasted a great deal of time.

With the length of the film being short compared to most modern-day films, it didn’t go into the backstory of most of the characters. There was no need for the film to try and get the viewer to grow attached to any of the side characters who were inevitably going to be killed off. We were told only what was needed to be known about the main characters and plot, which was plenty of information to still enjoy the film.

With the fact that it was only 52 minutes long, the film sounds like it could have been rushed — but the pacing was spot on. The rhythm of the film made the viewer feel as though they just stepped into the characters’ lives and found out the needed history as the film progressed. If any additional details got added to the plot, the film would have changed completely and overstayed its welcome.

The film is mostly in back and white, with some added grain to give it more of the 1930s and 1940s noir vibe. This is the most obvious ode to the original monster movies. With the short runtime and the film being black and white, “Werewolf by Night” acts as a love letter to those older movies that inspired the creation to bring the comics to life.

The attention to detail in the film is phenomenal with the use of mostly practical effects and practical makeup in the film, including for the werewolf and the other monster, Ted. Being that it's 2022 and almost every film or show uses CGI to create special effects, it’s much rarer for horror movies, let alone a Marvel movie, to not utilize CGI.

“Werewolf by Night” is the exception. For the director to choose not to use CGI is very impressive, especially because it didn’t look like a high school or otherwise amateur film. Thankfully, the film’s effects look real and as though it was made by a real production company — which it was.

Using practical effects always comes out better than using CGI because the film has a whole team dedicated to making the monsters look like they exist in reality. Thus, when scenes are filmed, the monster and human interaction look much more real.

Unlike the usual Marvel films and shows, “Werewolf by Night” is far bloodier than the viewer probably thinks it would be. Near the end of the film, it becomes an all-out gore fest while most of the film just has a spooky horror atmosphere using lighting and shadows for the film’s tone. This makes the film a perfect Halloween viewing experience.

“Werewolf by Night” currently (and impressively) has both a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer and an audience score of 91 percent. This goes to show that a Marvel special presentation labeled as a one-off for the ever-sprawling universe is well received and should be created more often. This is especially true for bringing in newcomers to the Marvel universe — because who has the time or the dedication to watch more than 14 years' worth of movies?

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