Now playing at Harkins Theatres and at FilmBar:
Werewolves Within--Werewolf movies don't ordinarily begin with a quote from Mr. Rogers. But then this horror comedy, despite some shared elements with the wacky 1974 Brit thriller The Beast Must Die, is no ordinary werewolf movie.
Directed by Josh Ruben from a script by Mishna Wolff (based on a video game), it's set in Beaverfield, a tiny Vermont town beset by conflict over a proposed gas pipeline; some residents want the money the gas company is offering while others refuse to sell, wanting to preserve the wilderness. A new park ranger (Sam Richardson) finds himself, first, thrown into a potential new romance with the adorable mailperson (Milana Vayntrub). Second, he finds himself hunkering down, during a power outage, in the local B&B with the diverse townies, one of whom may possibly be a murderous (and dog eating) werewolf.
The movie starts off genuinely funny, gets a little shrill and chaotic in its middle stretch, then finds its feet (or paws) again in the climactic scenes. Its charm derives from the ensemble of capable journeymen performers making the most of Wolff's off-center dialogue. Especially beguiling are the wonderfully diffident, non-confrontational Richardson, and Vayntrub, the cuddly young woman from the AT&T commercials, here serving as, essentially, a personification and spoof of the notorious "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" stereotype.
Ruben and Wolff are unmistakably presenting Beaverfield as an allegory for our polarized society, with its intractable ideological divides and its desperate need of Mr. Rogers-style neighborliness. But they keep this side of the material light and unforced; at its best the movie is a sweet-natured howl.