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In Defense of Howling V: The Rebirth

In defense of The Howling V: Rebirth

It’s completely reasonable to be skeptical about the claim that the fifth entry in the Howling series is a pretty damn good flick. It’s hard to remember the reason I even watched it in the first place. Either it was a slow night on cable or the desire to see a new werewolf tale overcame my skepticism. Whatever the reason, it’s a movie I’ve seen many times over the years because it is a really fun spin on a very familiar story. It’s also charmingly (not annoyingly) low budget.

Filmed and set in Hungary, Howling V: The Rebirth centers on a group of strangers who find themselves mysteriously gathered together for a trip to an ancient Hungarian castle. Once there, a werewolf starts killing the group members off one at a time. In response, the dwindling survivors band together to identify and destroy the creature among them.

Howling V Rebirth

The simplicity and familiarity of the premise works thanks mainly to the spectacular location. The castle is amazing and the perfect setting for a werewolf movie. It’s huge and dark and offers so many places to hide (or get lost), not to mention the fact that it would be insanely creepy without the presence of a werewolf. Director Neal Sundstrom, who really hasn’t done much else, does a great job utilizing the location for full effect.

While one or two cast members might be recognizable to people, in particular Philip Davis (Alien 3), the fact that most, if not all, are unknowns helps because you don’t have preconceived notions about the characters or know right off the bat who is likely to live and who will be dead before the group even suspects something is amiss. There’s not really any character development anyway, so you could play a fun game of guessing who will die next.

Howling V Rebirth Granted this film is not masterpiece. The low budget means that you hardly catch even a glimpse of the werewolf, and there really isn’t much gore, which you’d expect the fourth sequel in a horror series to have plenty of. There’s certainly no transformation sequence (which maybe isn’t a bad thing given the budget). But considering how only the original is held in high regard combined with the fact that expectations are extremely low for any title with a 5 (or V) after it regardless of genre, this is a surprisingly effective and entertaining little chiller. If you like werewolf movies or anything set in a castle, it’s worth your time.

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