A group of friends has assembled for game night at one of their homes, but their current game proves frustrating. When their hostess suggests a new game of Werewolf, much to the delight of the odd man out Kenneth, who is more than happy to serve as moderator, with his animated demeanor and his theatrical way of speaking.
The rules are explained: each person is secretly assigned the role of a villager or a werewolf. The moderator demand everyone close their eyes at "night," and the werewolves gather to "kill" a villager. In the "morning," the remaining villagers must attempt to figure out who the werewolves are, and kill a werewolf in the hopes of culling their numbers. But as this game of Werewolf gets underway, it starts to seem like more than a game. In fact, it starts to seem real.
Written by David Ellis and directed by Markus Meedt, this comedy-horror short is a fun comic romp that traces a game night gone awry, as a social deduction game reveals the fault lines in a seemingly tight-knit group, leaving them ripe for predation.
The storytelling leans on its comedic side first, setting the crackle and pop of its pacing through sharp dialogue. Initially heavy on witticisms, quips and deadpan reactions, the rat-a-tat rhythms let the story creep into horror territory, particularly as Kenneth and the game of Werewolf get going. But then it swerved from the scary factor back into humor built on the misunderstandings and tangled dynamics of the larger group.
Similar to the pacing and rhythms of the story, the editing and camera movement generates energy, with rapid cutting, pans and other techniques that dazzle with contrast and juxtaposition. And like the writing and the visuals, the performances of the ensemble cast also play off jagged contrast in energy and rhythm, creating a fun mix of characters ranging from the lovably daffy to the anxious hostess.
There's a believable camaraderie between the actors that translates into terrifically timed back-and-forth. As Kenneth, actor Will Seaward has a decidedly different performance style and character, but that contrast works beautifully in the film's tug-of-war between comedy and horror. The overall performance has an arch, even manic quality that bubbles forth with jauntiness, and the group often gets caught up in their back-and-forth. So much so that they don't quite realize just what the stakes of this particular game of Werewolf are until it's too late.
This game of Werewolf has real bite, as it turns out, and after a few feints, "Werewolf" itself accelerates into a climax that delivers the chills and thrills it has teased viewers with for most of its runtime.