Howl online movie review - "It wasn't a bear. Bears don't howl."
The generically named "Howl" is a werewolf movie so bland it borders on tasteless. Seriously--what was up with the fat, slovenly character of this movie?
There's a scene when he has to go to toilet, but when he finishes there's no water for him to wash his hands. So we, burdened with the designation of "audience," are forced to look at some of his poop and poopy hands for a few seconds. It's as if the team behind "Howl" knew how boring and lifeless their movie was, so they put moments like this one to add some shock. But showing stool is just a gross-out: a cheap, desperate tactic to get a reaction from the audience. And the worst is that this bathroom scene is the only memorable part about "Howl."
The rest of this clunker is set aboard a train that breaks down as it's passing through the woods. The protagonist is an average-looking man with average intelligence called Joe (Average Joe?) who is as bland as "Howl's" scenery, lighting, dialogue and characters. I guess it's fitting, then, him being as generically named as this movie. (And really: what is up with the title? The premise of a werewolf movie set on a train sounds unique--why not give it a cool, singular name like "Locomotive Howl," or "Fang Train," or something?)
Anyway, Joe's upset because he didn't get the promotion he applied for, which we're told through one of the film's many character-staring-into-the-camera-lens scenes. I've seen this technique before, but in "Howl," it's jarring. For movies that use this technique competently, check out "Rear Window" (1954) and "Pacific Rim" (2013) and anything by Stanley Kubrick. (Search up "Stanly Kubrick stare" to see what I mean.)
So Joe's upset because didn't get that promotion, but why he even applied is beyond me. He seems to hate his job, and I would too if the clientele were always as obnoxious as the ones in this movie. They sneer at him or attack him with sexual harassment lawsuits as he moves through the cars, trying to punch their tickets. It's so obvious Joe's just going through the motions until he's able to finish his duties, head off to an unoccupied car, and catch a quick nap before the werewolves show up. He'll need his energy: the rest of the movie is the cast shouting and running around, looking scared. Predictable.
It's not all bad, though. The werewolves look pretty great... but only when they're in the dark. In the light they look like yeti-costume rejects from "Harry and the Hendersons" (1987.) "Howl" also has a few moments of accidental comedy. When everyone leaves the train upon learning the driver's gone missing (first kill) they see some violently shaking bushes and hear growling. Somebody, in all seriousness, actually says, "Why would the driver be in the bushes?"
...Yes, indeed. Why *would* the driver be camping in those wet, drizzly bushes right after pulling the train's emergency stop? Did he have to take an emergency poo because the train's stall was constantly occupied by that slovenly character? Hmm--but why is he growling so loudly? Maybe not enough fiber? But look--now he's chasing us! God, and he's just bitten that woman on the leg! Wait--wait a minute, I... I don't think that's the driver at all!
Sad face. Yawn.
Other humorous lines include, "it wasn't a bear. Bears don't howl" (ohmygod) and the tedious, predictable, annoying, faux-inspirational speech Joe delivers on the train's intercom towards the movie's end: you can just picture the actors inside stifling yawns and the werewolves outside rolling their eyes. Also, Elliot Cowan's antagonistic character makes me think of OJ Simpson for some reason. I don't know if that's funny or clever.
Anyway: don't waste your time! "Howl" is not even "it's so bad it's good" quality. It's just a predictable pile of bad clichés and poopy, poopy hands.