Now that we’ve got the 4th of July celebrations over with, it’s time to turn our attention to alternative matters; the ancient subject of werewolves, a legend that’s older than the hills, but still sticks with us today. Werewolves; we see them cavorting in our woods at night, but how much do we really know about them? With a name that literally derives from the Old English words for catch and wolf, Seth Breedlove is an indie film-maker (using Kickstarter funding) with a speciality niche for documentaries about Bigfoot, The Mothman, The Jersey Devil, UFOs and all kinds of hard to explain phenomena. I’ve noted before how those poor souls encountered in my local Co-op will mutter about how our local minister was ‘stolen by the fairies’ decades ago, so to better understand the complex world we live in, I thought I’d gen myself up on this outre subject.
On the Small Town Monsters imprint, American Werewolves is about American werewolves, and captures first-hand testimony from a few of those who have encountered such beings, with off-brand names including dogmen or upright canids. Anubis, the Egyptian deity gets a mention here, and what’s striking is the earnest conviction of those who speak, including a retired police-officer. Hollywood exposure makes something cheesy of such strange subjects, but Breedlove allows his witnesses and experts to speak directly, and also with candour about the reasons for their reticence.
With no real visuals other than a Howling-style werewolf costume, artfully lit and inhabited, American Werewolf is visually repetitious, but it’s hard to see what could be done differently with ten times the budget. These are primal, verbal descriptions that work best in the imagination of the viewer, and some of the tone is chilling. As constructive criticism, there’s very little documentary evidence presented, which is frustrating in cases where hearing the official version would provide some insight into a potential cover-up; it’s suggested several people have been torn apart by these creatures.
There’s so much potential for lazy gags and intellectual snobbery about docs like this, but fortunately the public seem to want to believe; I’d noted that UFO doc Tear In The Sky was the most read review on this website so far this year (2022) then the similarly themed The Ariel Phenomenon overtook it. If you don’t care about werewolves, you can cheerfully skip this, but anyone with curiosity will be rewarded. There’s a closing discussion about ‘an unspoken agreement’ between the werewolves and their prey in terms of an energy created by the human’s sudden belief in the situation, and that same exchange works for this film too. It’s a lo-fi series of “I can’t believe I saw a werewolf stories’ and provides the kind of curious campfire tales that helps pass the time on a long, sunlight summer night.
American Werewolves debuts on major streaming platforms on July 5th, from 1091 Pictures, including iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu and FandangoNOW.