Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Howling Reborn (DVD Review)

Image - Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment

Writer/Dir: Joe Nimziki - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Landon Liboiron, Lindsey Shaw, Ivana Milicevic, Jesse Rath, Niels Schneider, Frank Schorpion
USA, 2011 (DVD Release)

Reason to see: I have a strong love for werewolf films

Wow, I really enjoyed The Howling Reborn. I was a little leery going in not being too fond of the original The Howling and the fact that this was based on the book I was unfamiliar with called The Howling II (by Gary Brandner), putting that two and two together just had me wondering what exactly would this film be like. But I took a chance and I’m glad I did as thankfully it's a fantastic coming of age journey film plus has all the great things you come to love with a werewolf film from great effects that are visceral and creepy to the mystery of the werewolf tale and lore. Plus, it cleverly aligns the werewolf transitioning to coming to adulthood by being set during the last days of high school with our underdog protagonist Will (Landon Liboiron) who spends time his days not approaching sexy classmate Eliana (Lindsey Shaw of 'Pretty Little Liars').

That’s where the film really gets going. The underdog and the ‘it’ girl is a theme that I think a lot of people are going to connect with and Landon Liboiron & Lindsey Shaw have great chemistry making the romantic tension in film work on many levels from hopeful wanting to dangerous desire. For the audience it totally works but case you immediate connect with Will and are rooting for him 100% of the time. The supporting cast is nicely filled out with Jesse Rath as Will's friend Sachin who serves as the resident Lycanthrope expert and film buff and Niels Schneider (Les amours imaginaires) as Roland & Eliana's boyfriend, who together provide nice depth in story and tension amongst the high school drama of it all. I loved how even though it’s full of gore and great stunts & effects there is a real sweet love story at the heart of the film and it’s got a awesome score and soundtrack to boot including nostalgic gothic treats like Killing by Echo and the Bunnymen.

I was really impressed with The Howling Reborn pulling together teen angst with a real sense of immediacy and still being an impressive horror film even with it’s PG-13 rating (listen to the commentary for interesting insights on the rating. The only thing that kind of distracted me was that Landon Liboiron really looks a fair amount like Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter of the Harry Potter films), not so much that I didn’t enjoy the film but it did throw me out of it on occasion. I do give big props to both Landon Liboiron and Lindsey Shaw for bring their characters to life with abandon and really going for it, you really feel it with the end result. I strongly recommend checking out The Howling Reborn.

DVD Extras:
  • Feature Commentary with writer/director Joe Nimziki and actor Lindsey Shaw, I really enjoyed this commentary, it's nice & conversational plus lively and entertaining and they discuss many aspects of the film from technical aspects like shooting on HD and with steady cams, changes to the script and film along the way, connection to the original film The Howling, writer/director Joe Nimziki talks about casting and specifically casting Lindsey Shaw and she discusses the unique audition process, they chat about filming in Montreal and the school the film was shot in and the different experience working with the extras there, the stunt work, working with Ivana Milicevic including the audition process, how they overcame creative challenges in the film including the scheduling getting shorter & shorter, what scene were issue with ratings and what choices were make to keep certain moments in to maintain a PG-13 rating, the years and path the film took over time and even addresses that it was written before the book Twilight and how at the time it was hard to get it across but now people are much more used to it, great memories of the process of making the film, inspiration for the film and lots of thanks and kudos to the cast & crew.
  • The Making Of: The Howling Reborn: (30 minutes) film clips, behind the scenes footage, pre-production footage of script reading, chemistry reads (which are awesome), audition tapes, storyboards and interviews including with writer/director Joe Nimziki and actors Lindsey Shaw, Landon Liboiron, Jesse Rath and Ivana Milicevic, VFX Supervisor Alan Best, production designer Yuda Acco, SFX Key Make-Up Artist Adrien Morot, director of photography Benoit Beaulieu, stunt coordinator Tyler Hall, executive composer Klaus Badelt, composers Mark Anthony Yaeger & Christopher Carmichael, on the inspiration behind the film, the paralleling the concept of animal nature and coming of age, the journey of the characters, the love story of the film, the metaphor of werewolves and our animal nature and the unique telling of a werewolf story, the challenge of creating a new werewolf look and behind the scenes with the werewolf effects, the look and feel of the film, the battle scenes, the audition process and especially the challenge of casting the complex characters and the importance of chemistry between Will & Eliana, and working together. The making of is broken down into different chapters including: The Story, The Filmmaker & Cast, The Werewolves, Visual Effects, Sound and Music
  • Storyboard Gallery scroll through storyboards for many of the film sequences including action sequences & werewolf transformations
The Howling Reborn is available on DVD as of October 18, 2011. Check it out over at &

Shannon's Overall View:
I really enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I strongly recommend to fans of horror with romance and it's a must see for fans of werewolf films

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011


Suzie Ridler said...

Oh man, now I want to see this!!! I wish I had seen the original movie to compare but it sounds like I wasn't missing much. Great review Shannon!

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Yeah, Suzie... I don't think the original Howling would be to your tastes, but Reborn would totally be up your alley.

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