In my almost hopeless search for werewolf movies that aren’t comedies, I managed to find this gem of a horror via Wikipedia of all places. As I have said in my horror sub-genres guide, finding new and good werewolf movies sometimes seems like looking for the holy grail.
However, in the film Wer I definitely found what I was looking for. Wer manages to have an intriguing story that also offers some brutal and electric fight scenes, good enough for any werewolf fan.
Wer starts off with the gruesome deaths of a family who were camping in the woods in the French countryside. However, the wife, Claire Porter, manages to survive. Through her recollection she describes an almost inhuman man, covered in fur and unexplainable strength, who violently attacked and ate her husband and son. A manhunt starts for this man, and the police, hell-bent on tying things up, arrests the recluse Talan Gwynek. We follow a defence attorney, Kate, and her team of specialists who are trying to exonerate him.
Now this is clearly a low budget movie, which you can tell by the almost found footage style of camera work, which makes the audience feel like flies on the wall. But it also features a different take on werewolves, which are quite different from the traditional imagery we are used to. Some people may balk at this reimagining of a werewolf, however I think they more make up with it with their brutal action scenes at the end. And if this becomes a way for filmmakers to make more werewolf movies, which are few and far between, then I am all for it.
Adding to that, unfortunately due to this non-traditional style of werewolves, there are no body horror transformations to get excited about. There is a hint of one, in the later portion of the film, but this quickly is interrupted with violent action. However, it would be possible to interpret that the transformation of the werewolf is not fully done, and what we witness in this movie is just the start of things. Which would make the later brutality even more frightening.
However, I have to mention that it is a bit of a shame that the name Wer was picked. If they had kept the subject matter of werewolves on the down low, it would have had an even bigger impact. Though it actually means “who” in German, but for English-speaking audiences, it is clear why they stuck with that name.
With this in mind, you do end up expecting something to happen, so the writers tipped their hand a bit. Which is a shame, as with their shift in tone, from law procedural story to bloody horror, would have been more of a delightful surprise. This does not mean that I did not thoroughly enjoy this film, knowing roughly what was going to happen.
Due to the focus on the arrest and prosecution of Talan, it is easy to forget that this movie is meant to be about werewolves. But it adds a nice human element that allows you to connect not only with Talan, but Kate and the rest of her team. This is expertly done, by focusing on the police and their hasty handling of this case.
Wer unlike other werewolf movies, tries to go for a less fantastical approach to werewolves, not claiming supernatural forces behind this ill-fated affliction. They do hint at some link to the moon, but they do not delve too deeply into this side of things. But I am glad that they don’t go too far in the direction of realism and science. Wer doesn’t try to rewrite the werewolf origin story exactly, but its more so that the characters are trying to make sense of what they are seeing.
When the final reveal of the werewolf was shown, I must admit, I was quite surprised. The preceding events had been slow paced, that this gear shift change was quite dramatic. The resulting bloody deaths from the werewolf becoming known, are not something to be missed. What they lack in body horror visuals, they make up with gory deaths, that will make you grimace at times.
They do not shy away from showing the gore as well, which you would suspect with low budget movies. The final showdown, even if you do not agree with the rest of the movie, is definitely worth the watch. But it is really the buildup in the first half, that makes the ending so much more shocking and compelling. Wer is a modern take on the werewolf monster that you cannot miss.
Wer is available to stream on Shudder and to rent on Amazon Prime Video.