DreadWorld Review: Blood Moon (2015)

I was reading somewhere or maybe it was on one of the myriad of podcasts I listen to on a weekly basis, and the writer/hosts were ruminating on the fact that there really hasn't been an explosion of werewolf films. Other than maybe the early 80's with American Werewolf in London, The Howling, and Wolfen, there has not really been a werewolf movement in horror. We've seen vampires get their due, ditto with the current crop of zombie films/tv shows. But werewolves have always trailed the other "classic" monsters in their mainstream acceptance.

I think a lot of that has to do with budgetary constrictions. In a way the creature, in this case the werewolf, is half the draw when it come to the film, meaning the creature has to look good. A shitty looking creature, or half-assed transformation scene can doom even the most well intentioned film. I got into this a bit more when I reviewed the independent werewolf film Wolf House (review HERE). It's easy to throw some fake fangs  and pancake makeup on an actor and call them a vampire. Same can be said for the zombie genre to a certain extent. Romero's zombies are certainly mot triumphs of special effects - at least in the way they look. Savini did some great effects regarding kills and such, but the zombies themselves are pretty pedestrian. The duality of the werewolf film that cripples most film makers is that not only do you need a good, comprehensive narrative, but you also need a good looking creature. So what does that have to do with today's feature, Blood Moon? Not much, other than the fact that it's rare that an independent werewolf film filters through the DW inbox as opposed to the plethora of low budget zombie films and I wanted to dive into that a bit. Thanks for being a captive audience.

After a daring bank robbery, Hank and Jeb Norton seek to hole up at an off the grid inn for some relaxation and new horses. Much to their chagrin a stage coach passing through the area has the same idea. The stage coach passengers find the innkeeper murdered in a rather unnatural way. Hank and Jeb attack during the innkeepers funeral, paring the cast down by three, and taking the rest hostages. As they settle in for the night, it becomes obvious that they are not alone and something is hunting them. That something is a "skinwalker" and it's going to take a lot more than what this small group of people has at their disposal to save their own lives.

Blood Moon is a western brought to the general pubic by way of England, which is a bit weird. The whole film just feels a bit off. Characters don't wear cowboy hats as much as they wear Irish bowlers. The exterior shots look like the woods of Westeros rather than the plains of the old west. The town feels like something built by someone who saw some pictures of the old west in a book. It all feels very artificial. That being said, these things probably won't bother you or even feel out of place unless you are American and have a real Old West reference point.

As I mentioned above, one of the struggles independent werewolf films face is how much you show the creature? Blood Moon, like most of these films, takes the "less is more" approach with its antagonist. Where as that is a wise decision for most low budget werewolf films because the creature usually looks like shit, the wolf in Blood Moon looks pretty bad ass. Once the creature is revealed there's a sense of regret that the film makers were sitting on it so long. You have a cool looking creature, stop with the bank robber jibber jabber and show it doing cool things.

Performance wise, Blood Moon is kind of all over the place. Again, these are British accents in an Old West setting, so something seems a little off. Much like most British actors doing American accents everything holds up pretty until they have to yell or scream, or times of excitement, then things kind of come off the rails accent wise. It was cool seeing Corey Johnson as one of the bandits. Johnson will be familiar to "Doctor Who" fans as Henry van Statten, the alien artifact collector who unwittingly reintroduces the Daleks to the 9th Doctor in the 1st series of modern Who.

Blood Moon is a mixed bag. There is a cool looking creature, but it's under utilized. There are some good performances, but the overarching British-ness of the production takes some of the bite out of them. It's a decent, paint by numbers werewolf film that isn't really helped by it's novel Old West setting. The film is currently available for US audiences to stream and purchase on DVD and will be available for British audiences come early October.

** stars out of *****

That's it for me. As always thanks for reading and "Enjoy every sandwich." 

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