Marvel’s jump to television came from the hand of Wandavision (Scarlet Witch and Vision around here). Her landing on the small screen was accompanied by a formal exercise that left no one indifferent. Wanda Maximoff’s series turned the visual canons of the superhero factory upside down, bequeathing a string of episodes that correctly play with its fiction, twisting the limits of the universe proposed to justify through its rules, both its visual commitment and your text. The sitcom landed in Marvel, and the fit in its universe was more than correct. Since then, the machinery has not stopped. An attempt has been made to alleviate the danger of saturation by approaching different formulas, ascribed to the cinematographic and television panoramaswith the most disparate results: from the (competent) “Christmas movie” by Hawk Eyeuntil the buddy movie of Lokior the (for me) failed lawyer comedy of She-Hulk. Now it’s time to go to Hammer gothic horrorwith the excuse of introducing the Werewolf, to continue what he started Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madnessand what will continue Blade; the MCU’s approach to horror and the supernatural.
Genre and formulas
Bringing the Marvel audiovisual superhero to all these genres requires a balance that, a priori, seems quite complicated to me. The approach to each of them implies questioning where the limits are locatedwhere the commitment to the current Disney recipe ends, or if there is room for the subversion of expectations. Wandavision It took quite a few sticks for the irreverence of its first chapters. While some of us enjoyed them, embracing their ground-breaking spirit, others asked (being fully entitled) about everything that has characterized the brand’s audiovisual offer. I don’t know if all this influenced the evolution of future projects, but what is clear is that each product has had different margins of manoeuvre, even in the cinema (there is Sam Raimi).
Hawk Eye, in its own way, seems to me to be a pretty good example of how the chosen genre can help to enhance the text if it is treated correctly. The formula of Christmas fiction is, almost by definition, a family product, and is there, in the UMC, a more familiar superhero than Clint Barton? The codes of the genre are perfect to enhance that facet that characterizes the most human member of the Avengers: a little adventure, family conflicts, humor and a protagonist pressured by the promises linked to the Christmas calendar. Character, genre and story marry perfectly. Then we could go on to assess the execution, although I don’t find any big problems there either, since the reduced scale helps to keep certain expectations at bay.
The Shadow of Classic Horror
The curse of the werewolf, for its part, has grown under the protection of certain very specific expectations. In the absence of a character with a previous journey that attracts the public, it has been decided to promote the tribute. The aesthetic has been used, with success, as the main advertising element, feeding the news about its approach to classic horror and gore. A double-edged sword, since it feeds certain expectations that must then be satisfied. To this, a Michael Giacchino has been delivered who, despite being a composer, shows that he knows something about cinema.
But the chromatic sensation of black and white, seasoned by the noise of an ancient projector, is accompanied by a presentation story that can become predictable even for those who do not know the character. The presentation of the Werewolf, as an audiovisual product, supposes a good cosplay about classic horror movies, a costume topped with good materials that, at times, comes to hit. The problem is that the wearer of the disguise, that is, the story that structures the plot and its narration, does not always move as its clothes demand.
Classic terror is based on the fears of human beings, reserving a special place for death, which is always present in our lives. Its roots lie in the literature of the eighteenth century, which uses the prevalence of rationalism to go to the inexplicable and thus give rise to horror through what escapes reason, through the unknown. The unknown and, to a certain extent, the eroticism achieved through subtle insolation, are two of the keys to classic terror. In other words, we are talking about the inexplicable and temptation, two keys that are difficult to see in a Marvel production. The insinuation of eroticism is ruled out by the brand image (and puritanism), and the inexplicable seems little friend of the levels of overexposure to which both Marvel and Disney have accustomed us. Therefore, I can tell you in advance that these two keys are not, nor are they expected, in The Curse of the Werewolf.
The reasons that have to move the plot are explained during the first minutes of the film. The abilities of the main (and secondary) characters discard the threat of death, moving their condition away from the vulnerability of the human. And the scenic suspense (handled well by Giacchino, and better accompanied by his soundtrack) collapses when that kind of action that is so familiar to us is triggered, showing for the umpteenth time the classic Black Widow judo lock. Everything works better when characters lose limbs, or are strung. But I already warn you; little happens. The mystery does not take long to give way to action, and it is a few plot twists as expected as ineffective. The drama (another key element), ends up blurring the threat, while the goodness rises to seal, in the final stretch, the goodness that should prevail in this type of production.
To make matters worse, classicism is embraced so strongly in the representation of the Werewolf that it doesn’t quite work. Gael García is always a gift, but his lycanthropic version does not manage to transmit, at any time, the threat that his words announce.
Dam of commitments
I would say the biggest problem The Curse of the Werewolf is that you must meet many commitments. In the first place, it aims to be a homage to classic horror movies, something that it only achieves at times; In addition, it must meet a minimum level of fidelity to the comic of origin of the character; and, of course, you must respect the limits imposed by the brand. Hence, for example, his approach to gore can be described as timid, despite the fact that it has been so vaunted. Staying within the limits set by all these commitments ends up making it difficult to meet the expectations generated by their promotion. So that finally the homage is reduced to the aesthetic, undoubtedly the most enjoyable part of the experience. It is an exercise that has the elements of what it honors, but that barely touches the themes, while it pursues the form without achieving the tone.
The attempt is appreciated, and I will not deny that, at times, I have enjoyed it, but a The Curse of the Werewolf he has plenty of commitments and lacks personality. Of course, I would like to see the director Giacchino again, approaching classic terror, with something more wide-sleeved.