Werewolf by Night (2022), Review & Ending, Explained: Marvel Studios have been trying to break into the horror genre for quite some time. In fact, their first foray into the genre within the MCU happened six years ago with Doctor Strange (2016), which didn’t quite land good thanks to uneven writing and possibly the shackle of Disney’s PG-13 rating despite having a great cast and being helmed by a very competent Scott Derrickson who can be considered one of the most dependable horror directors of modern times.
After the start of their audacious, very experimental Phase 4, Marvel tried even harder with “What If?” and the Doctor Strange sequel, titled Multiverse of Madness, where they had a fallout with Derrickson and brought in another horror auteur in the form of Sam Raimi. But nothing really yielded the kind of satisfactory result they were probably looking for.
Enter “Werewolf by Night,” a horror special with a TV-14 rating that gives a little better scope than PG-13 when it comes to including gore and profanity. Based on the Marvel comic character of the same name, Werewolf by Night is a grisly tale of monster horror wrapped in the blanket of gothic horror aesthetics with a killer twist. It is helmed by Micahel Giacchino, one of the most celebrated music composers of our time, famous for his work in iconic TV shows like Lost, Fringe, and movies like Up (2009), Planet of the Apes trilogy, MCU’s Spiderman trilogy and most recently The Batman (2022). Unsurprisingly, Giacchino scores the music for his own directorial debut as well.
Werewolf by Night (2022) Plot Summary:
In the same world where our Avengers and every other superhero exist, there lies darkness, and some people fight this darkness. The Bloodstone family is the most prolific among them, and with the death of Ulysses Bloodstone, there is a crown to claim and a jewel to possess. The red-colored jewel is also called “Bloodstone,” giving infinite power to the hunter possessing it.
On the dark, somber night of the funeral of Ulysses, several monster hunters from around the world gather to participate in a ritual, as per the last wish of Ulysses. The ritual is killing a monster (Carey Jones) within the closed compounds of the Bloodstone symmetry and claiming the jewel from the monster itself. Among the hunters are Jack Russell (Gael García Bernal), Jovan (Kirk R. Thatcher), Azarel (Eugenie Bondurant), Liorn (Leonardo Narm), Barrasso (Daniel J. Watts), and last but not least, Ulysses’s estranged daughter Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly). Elsa had birthright on the stone before, but now she has lost it due to being the biggest disappointment of her father, as claimed by her disapproving stepmother Verussa played by Harriet Sansom Harris.
The hunters are all welcomed by Verussa, the Bloodstone servant Billy (Al Hamacher), and a zombified form of Ulysses himself (voiced by Richard Dixon and puppeteered by Erik Beck), and the ritual begins.
Soon, Elsa and Jack team up, and Jack reveals his true intention: to free the monster they are about to kill for the stone as it happens to be his friend whom he calls Ted. They make a plan that leads to Elsa getting the stone and Jack freeing the monster. With some minor obstacles, they succeed with the plan, and Jack manages to free Ted, who eventually runs away into the wilderness.
But just when Jack touches the stone, it throws him off, revealing to everyone that Jack is a Werewolf.
Werewolf by Night (2022) Review:
Giacchino plays it smart by adopting a very old-school horror movie style from the thirties-forties, but then he infuses hyper-stylized modern-day action choreography. This sounds like a risky gamble, but thanks to Heather Quinn and Peter Cameron’s near-perfect writing, Jeffrey Ford’s sharp editing, and Giacchino’s confident directorial vision, he decides to use a lot of practical effects instead of CGI; it pays off. The end result is supercooled retro horror with modern sensibilities and some comedy bits that fit in perfectly.
What further helps the cause is Zoe White’s black and white, hauntingly gorgeous cinematography. There is a particular single-take shot during the movie’s climax, which should earn White all the praise and accolades in the world.
Another thing that needs special mention is Giacchino’s score for the movie. The man doesn’t need any introduction when it comes to creating goosebump-inducing soundtracks for big-budget genre movies, and it is evident that for his own directorial effort, he would store some of his top-tier works. His choice of using retro music mixed with synth-pop only elevates the movie further.
With a very contained 52-minute runtime where a lot of things happen, the scope of the actors to flaunt their talent is really limited. Still, even within that, both García Bernal and Donnelly manage to shine and make the audience care for their respective characters. But the real show-stealer here is the veteran Harris, who devours every scene she gets to bite on as the villainous Verussa.
It is nice to see someone get the chance to do something they have dreamt of for a long time. Giacchino has said in several interviews that he always wanted to make movies, and his unabashed love for the medium is clearly visible in Werewolf by Night. We hope he will make more movies and keep scoring memorable music.
Werewolf by Night (2022) Ending, Explained:
Jack is captured and taken to a cage by Verussa and other monster hunters. As Elsa has teamed up with him, she is also put in the same cage. Elsa gets mad at Jack for being in this situation, and he tries to convince her that he only hid his true identity as he thought that would protect her and everybody else.
Despite being imprisoned, Jack seems pretty much calm as the next full moon is in five days, and he only turns into a Werewolf on full moons. But Elsa tells him about the power of the bloodstone and making her fear come true; Verussa and other hunters decide to use that to turn Jack.
Jack pleads to Verussa one last time not to turn him as he wouldn’t be able to remember and show mercy. But Verussa goes ahead and does it anyway.
Why did Jack come to participate in the ritual?
Soon after turning into a Werewolf, Jack goes on a rampage as he promised and kills almost everyone around him. Elsa somehow manages to escape the cage and kills the rest of them except Verussa. Elsa then shares a tender moment with Jack, who is still in his Werewolf form but seems to remember her. Jack soon escapes, and right after that, a still alive, vengeful Verussa tries to kill Elsa with a gun, but Ted, the monster, arrives and kills her. Ted then goes to find Jack, following the direction pointed out by Elsa.
Jack and Ted eventually meet, and they both seem happy to see each other. This only implies that Jack’s true purpose was to free Ted, who probably got caught by Ulysses at some earlier point in time, before the incidents of this movie.
Was Elsa always the rightful owner of the bloodstone?
After Ted leaves in the end, Elsa asks Billy, the servant, to clean up all the mess and sits in the chair with the stone in her hand. As she sits, the black-and-white scene turns colorful, with her shining red jacket being the most visible among everything else. This is possibly an implication of Elsa being the true heir to the stone despite her father’s disapproval. She might have lost the birthright to it, but she gets it anyway due to her skill as a hunter.