Game of Werewolves
Directed by Juan Martinez Moreno
This Spanish horror comedy accomplishes exactly what it sets out to achieve: delivering a few scares, a few thrills and more laughs than a hyena huffing nitrous oxide.
There is no pretense to this affectionate homage to the classic creature features of John Landis, Paul Naschy and the Universal Monsters period. Being so aware of its specific intentions and the expectations born of its transparent influences, Game of Werewolves wisely exploits genre tropes in the service of a zany but surprisingly honest buddy comedy.
After some expository back-story on a hundred year-old curse cast by a cuckolded gypsy woman on the marchioness of a remote village in Spain, we meet the slutty noblewoman's modern day descendent, a struggling writer named Tomas (Gorka Otxoa). He's been away from his home town for fifteen years in pursuit of a career as a novelist, which has yielded one unsuccessful book and a clichéd stint as an alcoholic.
Hoping to be inspired by a return to his roots, he retreats to his ancestral home. While settling in at the dilapidated estate, Tomas's slightly peculiar childhood friend Calisto (Carlos Areces, Extraterrestrial, The Last Circus) shows up. Their frank and familiar rapport anchors the forthcoming ridiculous supernatural shenanigans to a realistically depicted and easily relatable relationship dynamic—that of estranged best friends.
Surrounding that strong core is a rich assortment of wacky characters, including Tomas' farmer/mayor/pastor uncle, his deadbeat literary agent, his dog—who is so well directed that he has one of the film's strongest personalities (in no way intended as a slight to the excellent work done by his human co-stars)—and a hilariously rational police officer.
These engaging performances, coupled with quirky, playful dialogue and clever editing make Game of Werewolves a howling good time even before the first lycanthrope shows its shaggy, rubber-suited tush.
With a pitch-perfect balance of campy, gory action and endearing characters full of raw human flaws, Juan Martinez Moreno has delivered a relentlessly entertaining and frequently surprising beast of a comedy.
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