Movie Review – Marvel’s “Werewolf by Night” is a Brilliant Tribute to Classic Monster Movies

Marvel has been testing the waters of different genres lately. Hawkeye gave us a holiday romp, Loki was a mystery thriller of sorts and She-Hulk: Attorney at Law is delivering in a big way on the comedy front. Now, they’re venturing into horror with their Disney+ original Halloween special Werewolf by Night. The result is nothing short of a brilliant tribute to classic monster movies and a wildly fun watch for this Halloween season.

The best way one could recommend this special presentation to someone would be “if you like the idea of classic monster movies like Dracula or The Wolf Man, but don’t really like watching old movies, this is perfect for you.” Werewolf by Night captures the vibes of those beloved films while still maintaining its modernity and not feeling like something that was shot in the ‘40s.

Making his directorial debut, famed composer Michael Giacchino said he grew up on those films and wanted to pay homage to them. He delivered on that in a big way. This special has the vibes of both the classic monsters and more modern horror movies, culminating in something unique.

And of course, Giacchino also delivers a fantastic score for the special as well. Many will recognize Giacchino’s work on Pixar films or even Marvel films like the Spider-Man trilogy or Thor: Love and Thunder, but he truly shows off his range here by creating a horror score worthy of even the most frightening of franchises. Like Halloween, it’s the music that really pulls everything together here.

The cast of Werewolf by Night also deliver memorable performances. There was certainly a challenge of having just about an hour to develop these characters and allow the audience to connect with them, but both Gael Garcia Bernal and Laura Donnely achieve this as Jack Russell and Elsa Bloodstone respectively. Perhaps the most impressive performance though comes from Harriet Sanson Harris, whose Verusa feels like a character taken right out of one of those classic films from the ‘40s.

One big takeaway I had from this special is that it is far more violent than anticipated. There’s little in the way of gore compared to most modern horror films, but there is more than just about anything else in the MCU and certainly more than what is typically seen on Disney+. This isn’t to say it’s a wall-to-wall gorefest, but it’s just a tad more intense than what some might expect.

And on that note, it’s also going to be one of the scariest watches available on Disney+. Again, it’s not going to cause nightmares for most, but it has its fair share of jump scares and does feature some graphic imagery. That imagery is largely inspired by both Marvel Comics and those classic monster films as far as the characters are concerned, but there are also those aforementioned modern vibes that amp the action up a bit at times.

While this is certainly far from the most consequential project as far as the entirety of the MCU is concerned, there is still plenty of fun Marvel stuff for fans to enjoy. Without going into spoilers, there are some characters who will be familiar to comic book fans and will be winning a lot of new fans for sure. Whether or not we will see them again in the MCU is something we’ll just have to wait to find out.

Overall, Werewolf by Night is an exciting experiment for the MCU. Venturing into the horror genre was a bold choice, especially for a Disney+ special, but it worked very well here. There are some audiences who will certainly find it to be a bit too much for them, but most who are looking for something just a little spooky this Halloween season, will enjoy this. And of course, Marvel fans are also going to have a good time.

Marvel’s Werewolf by Night premieres Friday, October 7 on Disney+.

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Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."