We’ve all heard the crazy, everlasting love stories that go against all odds: Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Beauty and the Beast, and so on ad nauseam. Most of those tales have happily ever after tacked onto the end, but sometimes, things just don't pan out for the lovebirds. When it comes to impossible romance, it can't get much worse than inter-species love in high school.
Will Kidman (Landon Liboiron Degrassi, Terra Nova) is your typical nerdy high school senior, with only one exception: his mom was brutally slain and he was stripped from the womb and left for dead. He grew up with an understandably overprotective father, a father that he's about to leave when he goes off to college in a few months. For the most part, though, life is pretty boring for Will Kidman, in fact the only thing worth noting about him is his intense crush on Eliana Wynter (Lindsey Shaw Pretty Little Liars, Aliens in America). It isn't until a few new people show up on the class roster just days before graduation that things start changing in Kidman's life.
If you're looking for crazy love, Joe Nimziki’s The Howling Reborn has it, but the love story is no more everlasting or unforgettable than Edward and Bella. The Howling Reborn is loosely based on The Howling II/ Return of the Howling by Gary Brandner, the man who brought us The Howling book series. However, I see Twilight as a much heavier influence. There are resemblances in characters, lighting style, story line, sad music, vegetarianism, trying to save your loved one from your own kind and cheesy voice overs. Honestly, if The Howling Reborn was any closer to Twilight, Stephanie Myers could sue for copyright infringement.
Most like Twilight is the oddly sporadic, over-dramatic acting going on in the movie. We see two people falling in love with each other within a matter of hours, and by love, I mean the kind of love where you'd kill or be killed for someone. Sure, the circumstances are pretty dire in this movie, but it just seems too farfetched, even for teenage werewolf love. There are multiple other scenes where, without giving too much away, huge, shocking revelations happen with Kidman, but he compartmentalizes them like a robot. The only emotion we see from him comes in disproportionately short outbursts.
The one thing that this movie does better than Twilight: practical effects. Don’t get me wrong, most of the effects are pretty terrible, but at least they put forth the effort to make practical effects rather than cop out with overdone CG. Although the werewolves in this movie look almost too similar to the vampires in the Buffy tv series, I always appreciate it when effects teams create actual monsters. The creatures in Reborn even have mechanical facial muscles in some parts of the movie. Sure, you could do all of that detail and use less manpower by doing CG, but where's the heart?
Special features for The Howling Reborn include: “The Making of The Howling Reborn,” a Storyboard Gallery and audio commentary with writer/director Nimziki and lead actress, Lindsey Shaw. I really enjoyed the “Making of” piece, listening to Nimziki explain his choices for visual and practical effects was delightful for a hardcore practical effects enthusiast. The storyboard gallery is also pretty interesting. It's exciting to see how a movie came to life from a few sketches and a story, and storyboards aren't something you usually see listed in special features.
I would recommend this movie to younger Twihards, and I’d almost say teens and ‘tweens in general, but the film is rated R. With that being said, I don't really understand the genre choice, because even lead actor Landon Liboiron says that Reborn isn’t as much horror as it is romance. The film's title is perplexing too, because the use of "The Howling" in the title will attract the wrong audience. If Reborn was marketed as teen romance/fantasy and took out the drug use reference, it may have been better received. In this case, though, people expecting anything like the original The Howling will be disappointed and confused, and the people who should be the target audience will probably miss out altogether.
Film Score: 1.5/5 Disc Score: 3.5/5
*Images from Blu-rayDefinition.com