By: Amanda Guarragi
The feel of old-fashioned monster movies isn’t present in horror movies today. What they offered was something different. Horror doesn’t only consist of scares, an excessive amount of blood, or graphic violence. It can also bring some humanity to the monsters we see through their interactions. Old-fashioned horror monster movies would design a different way to scare audiences through the use of lighting, shadows, and an incredible score. These films would tap into the viewers’ psyche and tap into their fears. The cinematography has always been an important factor when constructing these monster films and director Michael Giacchino brought this all back in the Marvel Special Werewolf by Night. It is a wonderful homage to the comic books and the monster movies audiences have loved.
When a secret group of monster hunters gather at Bloodstone Manor following the death of their leader, they engage in a mysterious and deadly competition for a powerful relic which will bring them face to face with a dangerous monster. Co-writers Heather Quinn and Peter Cameron adapted the comics most simply. It was one evening filled with lore, monster hunters and creatures lurking in the shadows. Jack (Gael Garcia Bernal) has a secret of his own but is more interested in finding out who this creature is that they must kill to retrieve the Bloodstone. Ulysses’ wife Verusa (Harriet Sansom Harris) is the one orchestrating this evening for her husband. When their estranged daughter shows up, Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) wants to put a stop to the tradition.
Giacchino and director of photography Zoë White build that old horror mood together. The production design was simple as they crafted a little maze within a town for the hunt. As Giacchino moves through the maze with Jack and the rest of the hunters, he slowly moves the camera when the characters are in the frame. There’s a symmetry with the lighting and highlights that White expertly designed so it feels as if you are coming out of the shadows with them. There are some beautiful shots in this special presentation and it’s because of her work. Once we see the werewolf, Giacchino’s choice to show the kills and movement through shadows and flashing lights is fantastic. It was lovely to see a project go back to the genre’s roots.
Werewolf by Night is one of the best Marvel projects that has come out this year. Director Michael Giacchino had a clear vision of what he wanted to do with this special presentation, and it worked. On top of that, he is one of the best composers, and his score for this project brought that sinister feel as they navigated through the town. It worked as a contained story. The ending of this could also lead to more tales about the Werewolf by Night. The reason why the end worked so well is because of what is referenced, and it is such a layered way to end the special. It is a perfect Marvel project to bring in the Halloween season, and it’s something that fans will return to every year. Giacchino did a great job with this, and it’s only fair that we get to see more.