R, 1 hr. 35 min. Directed By: Daniel Attias. In Theaters: Oct 11, 1985. On DVD: May 28, 2002.
I’ve written this a few times in the course of my blogging: werewolf movies are hard to do right. There are some icons within the genre, like An American Werewolf in London, that are great movies, but I think the transformation (and final) effects are not as visually appealing as they might be. The Howling frequently gets raves, but it’s never been one of my favorites. In the last few years, I think the werewolf movie has undergone a bit of a regensis: the effects are starting to catch up to the imagination, whether the final product is the “wolfman” hybrid or the less, but increasingly common “loup garou,” wherein the final transformative form is an actual wolf of any size. In The Twilight Saga, the werewolf transition is the ONLY thing I find redeeming about the entire series with the exception of the hotness that is Ashley Greene. In Blood and Chocolate, the simple transformation and natural wolves are the prime selling feature of what would otherwise have been a very, very stupid and relatively weak film.
Silver Bullet is somewhat of a classic. I was introduced to it somewhere in my early teens. Because my parents were a mite overprotective and needed parental confirmation that things reported to be going on were actually going on, I saved myself a lot of embarrassment and hit Blockbuster a lot. It’s where I learned to enjoy horror movies. One of those trips netted me this movie.
It has an upside. The mythology behind the werewolf is TIGHT, unusually so for Stephen King, who tends to like to fudge things a little while going through his process. Once we can suspend disbelief about the existence of a werewolf, the story works logically. If you’re like me and like to give yourself the creeps at night by reading entries on serial killers on Wikipedia, you’ll notice that the murders that take place in this small Midwestern town could conceivably be the work of a human, although you know almost from the onset that a werewolf is involved. The filmmakers could have gone a bloodier, more animalistic route that would have trashed that. I guess I’m giving them props for practicing restraint.
But there are a few things that annoy me. The first is the sister as narrator. Totally stupid. I get that she was only vaguely involved and had that “high level” overview capability, which makes her acceptable (traditionally) as a narrator, but I thought this would have been a better movie without one. In my mind, narrators are there when a story is sufficiently complicated that the audience might miss something without someone pointing things out to them. Silver Bullet isn’t that kind of story. It’s easy to keep up and the narrator feels more like a distraction than an asset.
My other gripe revolves around the lead character. Not so much that he’s handicapped, but that his parents allow their 12-year-old to tool around on what’s basically a motorcycle turned into a wheelchair. Seriously. This kid is road-warrioring his way down back country highways at speeds that match the traffic (based on my own life in a rural Midwestern town), so we’ll say between 45 and 60 MPH. Does that seem realistic? Realistic or not, the story couldn’t have the lead character be handicapped without that special chair. It’s too important a plot device.
This is probably why I used to have a “meh” rating. It has moments, but it has facets that are cringe-worthy at best, and downright stupid at worst. It’s not a terrible use of a few hours, though.