Werewolf by Night is a voguish homage to the classic monster movies from the 1930s and 1940s, paying true adulation to the older films. The hour-long film is made for viewers to watch on a dark stormy night. Maybe this film won’t become a classic like Frankenstein or The Body Snatcher, but it uses every trick in the horror book to create an atmospheric creature feature. There are several similarities when it comes to comparing Werewolf by Night to classic horror films, so we’re going to dive deeper into the top seven.
- Black and White
The first and most obvious reference to the classics is that the film is shot in black and white — minus the very last scene. Granted, films back in the day weren’t capable of being shot in color, so of course, they were black and white. Nowadays, a black-and-white film is immediately correlated to the 1930s and 1940s films, intentionally putting the viewer back in time. Despite this, just having it be black and white isn’t enough to truly make the film feel as though it was shot before the 1950s. Director Michael Giacchino made sure to edit in film grain and Q-marks to give it the old-school feel. This effect, on top of the color choice, truly gives viewers the experience of a classic monster movie.
The second tribute to older films is the usage of shadows. What made classic horror movies so effective was the use of shadows to hide the fact they didn’t have CGI or elaborate special effects. Seeing a dark silhouette and then the shadow of the monster making its kill is rarely used anymore unless it’s in a film that purposefully puts it there to reference the classics. Werewolf by Night uses lighting to show that a monster could be lurking around the corner.
Werewolf by Night uses carefully crafted lighting to compensate for their lack of CGI in eerie scenes. By doing so, the lighting creates an interpretation of how the monsters look and how the stage is set up, darkening certain areas to not reveal as much and paying homage to the classics with the overuse of flashing lights. There is never a time when the lighting wasn’t at play during the film.
- Gothic Horror Style
The gothic horror style strongly relates this film to older monster movies, hence the audience’s seal of approval. It encapsulates the prime gothic horror aspects: foggy streets, a battle between monster and humanity, a ‘haunted’ mansion, burdened male protagonist, melodrama, a beast within, and more.
- Practical effects
Giacchino uses practical effects for the majority of the film. Due to the classics being made in an earlier time period, movies didn’t have the capability to showcase the effects of modern movie magic. In the current film world, there really isn’t a film or show that doesn’t use CGI for the majority of the special effects. Werewolf by Night went back in time to use practical effects and actually had the monsters on set.
- Humans are the true monsters
Humans are the true monster in a monster film. The so-called monster is misunderstood; if they weren’t being hunted down, then they would go off and live in peace. Monsters aim to stay in their territory to prevent crossing paths with humans. The human is revealed to be the one who has no soul and will do everything in their power to erase the different species — monsters.
- Beauty Tames the monster
The most notable homage is having the widely used “beauty” (AKA the female) taming the monster and pulling him back to his humanity. This isn’t only done with the classic monster films, but it is mostly associated with them. This plot line has been used in an endless amount of films, whether it’s with an actual monster or just the villain of the story. Werewolf by Night employs this classic trope in the overall plot with the female lead helping to tame the male monster.
While the film takes place in the modern day, the audience easily forgets this due to Werewolf by Night constantly paying homage to the classic monster horror films.