The resurgence of the werewolf species, in the horror cinema, seems as if awakening from a long slumber, though not referring to the those of cutesy variety from the Twilight series, rather the ferocious beasts prowling the landscape wanting to chomp and gnaw on their victims, feeding their bloodlust.  Noting the tales of Late Phases (2014) and WolfCop (2014), among the return, comes director Daniel Robbins with his first horror film, Uncaged, distributed by RLJ Entertainment, on February 2, 2016, who also served as screenwriter alongside Mark Rapaport. Similar to WolfCop a comedy horror, Uncaged using that same disguise for  a portion of the movie, with the fans hungry for the love of The Howling (1981) and Dog Soldiers (2002).

Robbins presents a very modern version to the classic werewolf, no reference to Universal Pictures, The Wolfman (1941) a masterpiece, rather features three young men using technology for sexual conquests and discovery on themselves coming of age, understanding their transformation, from teens to men, and for one the situation carries more weight than any trial he’s ever faced. Meanwhile an overlapping series of follies, involving friendship, antics and even betrayal will suffer unto them the fates and curses of the beastly mannerisms.  During winter break, Jack, Brandon and Turner, head to Uncle Mike’s cabin for winter break, the car ride contains high school locker room humor; although none bring a date or friends they feel upbeat on the excursion, out in the country. Brandon (Zack Weiner) and Turner (Kyle Kirkpatrick) become a dynamic duo with their antics upstaging the star of the film Jack (Ben Getz), their characters not only have depth, but they work seemingly well together without issues, they match on delivery of lines and attitude. Jack though has a problem, a small overbite and raging hormone issue, that affects his style of dress, or more precisely lack of dress, borrowing a bit from An American Werewolf in London (1981) him waking up naked in the woods. Take note to look for Gene Jones’ (Sacrament (2013)) role as Wade small but the effectiveness overwhelming shows his testament to the acting craft, a minuscule role though steals the scenes away from lead, Getz. Although, a trivial problem, the hunger pains grow, he borrows a GoPro camera to capture his journeys in nude sleepwalking and discovers his wolfing out spectacular fashion, as he takes down another person at the train station. Meanwhile, Jack’s cousin Brandon informs Turner, a true misogynist on the prowl, of the crazy childhood Jack had, of his mother killing his father and disappearing into the night this all fuels the ride further for rollercoaster of a finish. One must not omit another monster running about a possessive drug kingpin; Gonzo (Garrett Hendricks) effectively nails the role, with gusto, that one cannot wait to see him another film, vicious and vile performance. As Al Pacino’s character once stated, “I’m the bad guy” in Scarface (1983) Garrett’s brings the bad guy routine to a new level, when he takes his girl’s (Paulina Singer) pooch outside to teach it and her a lesson, by shooting it. Hardcore cold action, and he acts perfectly normal about the situation as if nothing ever has happened, solidifying himself as the true apex predator.   The final act of the movie presents a classic werewolf battle, similar to Jack Nicholson’s and James Spader’s throw-down in Wolf (1991) and slow transformation, noting quickly the limits of the budget yet showing the skill to create a new beast’s conjuring.

A rule in horror films, unleash the beast a tad sooner, allow the chase, carnage and yet stay hidden, control the comedic lines, and build tension, one wants to bank that, and use it later to unleash it on the viewers. The portions of the movie seem as if comedy Porky’s became a mixed-up version of a werewolf movie, although it all works the fear factor lessens some because of the situation. As for gore-hounds the blood loss remains fairly low, allowing the audience to use their imagination to image the horrors happening before them.

The movie delivers a werewolf tale, but without the viciousness of the box cover picture, a slight downgrade over the point, but horror fans while influenced by the DVD or VOD artwork, rather tune in for a grizzled beasty roaming the countryside. A suggestion to the future filmmakers that seek to breed the next generation of werewolves have them feed on random teens, a farmer or two, dining with romantic couple, because none of that happens in this movie, sadly one needs to wait for the sequel, as the door of Uncaged is left open, inviting another adventure.

This review was originally published in February 2016 on the now defunct Rogue Cinema website with a view count of 1,696.

TAGLINE: Beware the beast within.

IMDb Rating: 4.2/10

Baron’s Rating: 4.0/10