werewolf mckenzie film

 

Now and then, a film comes along that dares you to look it in the eye. It will hold out its hand, ask for charity – perhaps even try to pick a fight if you don’t offer it anything. These films will be belligerent, holier-than-thou, and antagonistic…but still you cannot look it in the eye.

Is it because you don’t like it? Or because you don’t like how it makes you feel?

WEREWOLF is the story of a couple named Blaise and Nessa. Both are struggling with drug addiction, treating their substance abuse with Methadone. They live in squalor; mowing lawns for mere token fees (some locals even pay them not to mow the lawn). They share a shabby trailer out in the rough and only seem in enabling each-others vices.

Eventually, Nessa goes back home. She finds real jobs and seems to be getting serious about getting clean. Blaise, on the other hand, seems poised to finally slip over the edge.

The debut feature from Canadian director Ashley McKenzie is a stark, threadbare look at long, slow spiral. It pulls us apart like it’s making a wish; giving us hope as we see Nessa recognize how few chances she has left, while Blaise gets increasingly antagonistic and self-destructive. It’s out to make us feel uncomfortable, and question whether we really believe that people can change.

WEREWOLF is a heightened sensory experience. Every shot is tightly-cropped, and most of its sound design is loud and abrasive. It’s not interested in telling us a story so much as it’s interested in making us feel it. It wants every sound to become a misophonic symphony, and every interaction to be claustrophobic. It doesn’t want us to listen to the story of Nessa and Blaise so much as it wants us to slip into their skin and feel it crawl.

This film is an intense experience…if not always a pleasant one.