When the original "The Howling" debuted in 1981, while successful enough, it certainly wasn't a huge commercial or critical smash on arrival. But through time and the video market, Joe Dante's werewolf conception started to gain traction and fit into a monster movie niche that few other pictures at the time were filling. An apt genre comparison of the same era would be the stellar (and much better) "An American Werewolf in London." Neither film reinvented horror conventions, but both employed state-of-the art effects and make-up to modernize the tales for a new audience (American Werewolf won a 1981 Make-up Oscar). As "The Howling" eventually came to be embraced as a minor classic of werewolf lore, it spawned a series of direct-to-DVD sequels (most in name only). Really, if you have seen ANY of them--they leave a lot to be desired! I say all this to preface my comments about "The Howling Reborn" (a title eerily reminiscent of 1991's "Howling V: The Rebirth"). There's nothing wrong in referencing a classic, but the movie landscape has changed considerably since the original film. Now werewolves are all over television, books, and movies and it's much harder to bring something new to the party.
Unfortunately, this is a real case of "I've seen it all before, and much much better!" The movie kicks right off with a werewolf attack (although the culprit is unseen) as a pregnant woman in what looks like a bad disguise is mauled. The film advances through time, and now the unborn fetus is about to graduate from high school. This isn't any ordinary high school, though. It seems to be a private facility with a fortress like security system--seriously, it's pretty spectacular to see this ancient building with stained glass windows go into a modern lockdown mode any prison would envy. Several things must be accepted to move the plot along. Despite having attended the same classes for years, the plot requires various characters to be complete strangers (even the principle is clueless about his class of seniors). Although the school is bustling with activity, it can also be completely deserted when necessary. Even gunshots, blood stains, bodies, or missing students don't arouse investigation during the school day! So much for advanced security.
Our hero (Landon Liboiron of the new show Terra Nova) is one of those movie geeks who seems to be a misfit because he wears glasses (very Harry Potter, in fact). His love for an enigmatic tough girl reaches fruition as she invites him to an after hours party where he is almost attacked. But things start to get even more suspicious. Is there a werewolf clan? What are their designs on our young hero? And is there any escape? And if about 100 people went missing, would anyone notice? On the last day of school, the building goes into full lockdown (despite the fact that graduation is being held--without parents--right outside) trapping all the principle players in for a series of showdowns. The werewolf effects aren't especially notable and are used very sparsely to boot. It's all incredibly silly and underwhelming. There are just too many werewolf choices available to make this rather inept attempt of any interest. Even suspending all logic (which you have to do throughout) , this simply doesn't offer any originality or any genuine thrills. KGHarris, 10/11.