Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Film Review: Wer (2013)

Wer (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: VUDU
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...throws you into a tailspin with plenty of werewolf excitement."

After a family is savagely murdered in the woods, defense attorney Kate Moore (A.J. Cook) opts to defend the enigmatic suspect, Talan Gwynek (Brian Scott O'Connor)...

Wer follows Kate and her crew as they prepare to defend Talan. Talan is suspected of brutally slaughtering a family in the woods. The only living witness of the heinous crime claims a beast attacked her family and killer her husband and son. Kate, however, believes Talan has been unjustly arrested due to his appearance – Talan is tall and hairy. Evidence also points the murders could not have been committed by a human, regardless of size. Eventually, Kate finds out she's been defending a werewolf. (I don't think a spoiler alert is required, it's in the title and every other description out there.) So, a manhunt ensues – and plenty of people die. The film leads to a predictable ending. The ending was also a bit cheesy, really. I didn't hate it, but it wasn't as strong as the rest of the film.

And, Wer is a fairly strong film. I just did this with Bastard and I'll do it again – I must applaud Wer for stepping out of the 'ghost' comfort zone. It seems many horror films nowadays stick to haunted houses and incorporeal ghosts. Instead, Wer sticks to its title while adding a bit of mystery. We follow Kate as she investigates the several possibilities through the first half, then it explodes with a massive manhunt. From there, we get plenty of werewolf excitement and gore. It's not particularly frightening, but it is intense and suspenseful. The gore was also very impressive and even a bit shocking. I never thought I'd see a child ripped in half or a jaw being ripped from a dome. It's all paced and balanced well, too.

Wer isn't perfect, though. You know that mystery I was talking about? Well, it's more of an investigation we already know the answer to. It's not really mysterious or ominous when we know what's coming, so it is predictable in that sense. Also, the narrative is reliant on several plot contrivances. There are quite a few moments where you'll say, "yeah, right." I mean, come on, you expect me to believe Kate will be the first to stumble into a barn during a manhunt when there are dozens of officers around. On the topic of Kate, I wished they would have made her more than the know-it-all, self-righteous defense attorney that ends up being wrong. Some of these issues are significant, but most are forgivable at the end of the day. I just needed to note: it's not perfect, but it's entertaining.

The acting was good, too. Although her character is just another cliche, A.J. Cook performed well as the leading lady. Brian Scott O'Connor does well as the titular beast. All-in-all, the cast delivered strong performances. This is not a found-footage film, although it uses the genre a bit during certain segments. At the same time, it often uses the same flaws from the found-footage genre – even in the traditional format, the camera still manages to bounce and shake like if the cameraman had the jitters. The special effects were mostly splendid. There are a few moments, like a scene with glass, where the special effects stuck out like a sore thumb, though. The film is written and directed by William Brent Bell; Matthew Peterman also assists in the writing. For the most part, the film is directed well. The writing could use some work, but it's otherwise a well-crafted werewolf film – certainly much better than The Devil Inside.

Overall, Wer is a very good horror film. Although far from groundbreaking, the narrative is interesting and well-structured. The film takes its time to hook you, then it throws you into a tailspin with plenty of werewolf excitement. I was wary of watching this film due to the director's previous work, but William Brent Bell has redeemed himself. I look forward to seeing what he brings to the table in the near future.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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