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Film / Howl

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Howl is a 2015 horror film starring Ed Speleers. The film was released on October 16.

The film centers around the staff and passengers aboard a train which becomes stranded in Thornton Forest at night during a full moon. Cut off from the rest of the world, the passengers are forced to band together to survive when the train comes under attack by a group of vicious werewolves.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Sean Pertwee was the sergeant in Dog Soldiers, another English werewolf movie. Ironically, the werewolves in that movie share a few superficial similarities to the ones here.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Kate spends her final moments futilely whimpering to the werewolf not to kill her after it drags her off the moving train onto the tracks.
  • Alpha and Beta Wolves: The werewolf pack seems to operate this way. Scar and Blonde are a male and female respectively who are more physically imposing than the other werewolves, and Bald and Hunchback display wolf-like submissiveness to Blonde.
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  • And Then John Was a Werewolf: Joe is infected and joins the pack at the movie's end.
  • Asshole Victim: Adrian, who abandons the rest of the group to die, is killed himself by Joe, who had turned into a werewolf.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: The werewolves succeed in killing or turning all but one of the people aboard the train, and the pack are still alive in the forest in the final scene.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Billy attacking the werewolves with Molotov Cocktails.
  • Big "NO!": Joe when the train shuts down again before it's clear of the werewolf-inhabited forest.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Adrian at first seems like a flirtatious gentleman, a potential group leader and a voice of reason, but as the night goes on, he gradually reveals himself to be an unashamed, unscrupulous cowardly jerkass who cares foremost and solely about his own wellbeing.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: Ellen makes it out of the woods to safety in Eastborough, but everyone else from the train (jerkass Adrian included) is either dead or transformed into werewolves.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Nina is pulled through a window by Scar and seemingly torn apart and killed on the roof of the train outside. However, when Billy and Matthew attempt to repair the train's fuel lines outside, Matthew hears Nina's voice crying out in the woods and wanders off to investigate. He finds her half-eaten still alive body in a tree being devoured by the Bald werewolf.
    • Might technically be averted, as Nina's eyes are golden like the werewolves', hinting she was metamorphosing into a werewolf whilst they were eating her alive.
  • Dead Star Walking: Sean Pertwee is the first victim of the werewolves.
  • Dirty Coward: Adrian turns into this whenever the werewolves are about to get into the train, only caring about escaping to save his own skin and worse yet practically feeding Kate, Ellen and Joe to the werewolves to save his own skin. He's also quite unashamed about it.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Thornton Forest is dark, gloomy and foreboding at night, and when the train breaks down in the woods a couple miles from civilization, it's attacked by werewolves. The characters take refuge aboard the train, and exiting it and entering the trees is a surefire way to wind up getting hunted by the werewolves, though in the end, when dawn is near and the train is moved much closer along the tracks to the next town, the survivors resort to fleeing through the woods with the train overrun.
  • Eaten Alive: By the werewolves. You're alive when they start to eat you.
  • Extreme Doormat: Joe is this at the start of the film. He goes through Took a Level in Badass over the film.
  • Eye Scream: As one of the many injuries inflicted on him as the group defends themselves once he breaks in, Scar gets stabbed in the eye with a metal bar.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: The werewolves have notable eyeshine in the dark woods, and when they get aboard the train while its lights are out.
  • Hate Sink: As the film progresses, Adrian increasingly earns the characters' hatred — first due to the reveal of his implied gigolo work alongside his married life and his "survival of the fittest" urging to Joe regarding the other passengers, his expressed contempt for Ged based on the latter's old age, and his attempt to kill the bitten Jenny against everyone else's wishes, which gets him tied up due to the danger he poses. Then there's his less-than-grateful response to Joe saving his worthless ass from a werewolf.
  • "Hell, Yes!" Moment: All members of the cast who aren't already dead (except maybe Billy with the position he's currently in) have one when the train's power is restored and it starts moving out of the woods. It doesn't last long though.
  • Heroic BSoD: Ged apparently goes into one when Jenny turns into a werewolf. He's only able to punch Adrian out when the latter almost takes the werewolf down, but can't do anything to defend himself or others from Jenny. It gets him killed.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Billy pulls one when he molotovs one of the werewolves, enabling Joe and Ellen to escape, but Billy is dragged back and killed by the Blonde werewolf before he can follow them. Joe ultimately stays behind to fight the werewolves to the death, enabling Ellen to make it to Eastborough alive.
  • Hollywood Darkness: A digital-looking version, which is spookier and more atmospheric than some examples.
  • Hope Spot: The group manages to kill the werewolf that is picking them off and then set about repairing the train... and then they hear the noises from the rest of the pack in the woods.
  • Hostile Weather: The storm at the start of the movie causes multiple railway disruptions around the country which mean help doesn't arrive for the characters' broken-down train anytime soon, enabling the plot with the attacking werewolves to kick off.
  • Incorrect Animal Noise: For some reason, some of the werewolves have the distinctive "yip-yip-auooo!" cry of a coyote.
  • It Can Think: The werewolves seem to have aspects of human-like intelligence still in them. Notably, Scar, the lead werewolf, makes sure to sabotage the train's radio from the outside after his first attack on the passengers. They also seem to take some form of pleasure in hunting the passengers, as Scar deliberately scrapes his claws along the side of the exterior of the train carriage for no other reason than to intimidate and frighten the passengers. When Jenny turns, she tears out her husband's throat and then leers menacingly over Adrian with a smile on her fanged face. The werewolves at the end of the film also seem to consciously make a choice to turn Joe into a werewolf, rather than tear him apart and eat him.
  • Jerkass: All the passengers (with the exception of Matthew) act like this to varying degrees at first, but once they all become aware of the danger outside the train, they turn into Jerks With Hearts of Gold. Reversed by Adrian, who is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As much of an amoral bastard as he was, Adrian was completely right not only that Jenny would turn into a werewolf due to her bite wound and try to kill them, but also that restraining her wouldn't do any good once she turned.
  • Karmic Death: Despite abandoning Joe and Ellen to save his own skin, Adrian would never find his way back to civilisation thanks to a turned Joe, while Ellen would go on to survive the ordeal.
  • Large and in Charge: Scar, the leader of the werewolf pack is distinctly bigger and more muscular in build than the rest of the werewolves in the film. Once he's dead the remaining three werewolves have amongst their number one notable female werewolf who seems to have superiority over the other two.
  • Made of Iron: One of the werewolves survives being molotov'd, although it's left with burned black skin in the final scene.
  • Mama Bear: Kate towards Nina when the first werewolf attacks, subsequently bonding with the girl. She's distraught to say the least when she's unable to save Nina from being dragged off and torn open.
  • Molotov Cocktail: Billy makes one and sets a werewolf on fire with it towards the film's end. It successfully distracts the pack, but the werewolf in question quickly recovers.
  • Monster Delay: The werewolves aren't fully seen beyond brief glimpses of Scar's limbs until Scar gets onboard the train. Even after that, the other werewolves largely remain obscured by shadow until the climax.
  • Nice Guy: Matthew seems to be about the only genuinely decent passenger toward Joe with no disgusting habits before the crisis hits.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Once he breaks in, the passengers gang up on Scar, the lead werewolf and beat him to death.
  • Not Quite Dead: After taking several ax strikes to the chest, Scar turns out to have just enough life in him to rise back up and give one final howl, alerting the rest of the pack to the train's location. Joe smashes his face to a bloody pulp with a fire extinguisher to put him down for good.
  • Noisy Nature: Among the sounds made by the werewolves is the distinctive "yip-yip-auooo!" of a coyote. Judging by their cries, alone, they'd almost make more sense as were-coyotes rather than werewolves ... if not that the film is set in Great Britain.
  • One-Word Title
  • Oh, Crap!: There's quite a few. Namely there's Paul realizing he's trapped in a toilet compartment with the werewolf breaking in through the roof, there's especially the look on Kate's face when the survivors realize there is indeed more than one werewolf, and there's Joe and Ellen's faces when they realize Adrian has gotten Joe's keys and is about to lock them on the train with the werewolves.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The werewolves in this film have a somewhat more human-like appearance than most portrayals, with the major wolf-traits present in their anatomy being their golden eyes, pointed ears, jagged teeth, claws, noses and triple-jointed legs. Otherwise, they still possess distinctly human features including being largely hairless. Jenny even flat-out states that the werewolf who attacked her looked more like a man than an animal. Their vocalizations are a mixture of wolf-like howls and snarls, and vaguely human-sounding grunts and distorted rasps, which sound particularly disturbing. Lycanthropy infects and turns new people into werewolves via bites; but unlike the mainstream Shapeshifter depictions of werewolves, this version of lycanthropy is treated as a pathogenic mutation which slowly and increasingly transforms the victims and makes them lose their human identities in a zombie-like manner. The transformation after infection appears to be one-way and permanent. It's unknown if the full moon has any influence over these werewolves or the disease that turns them (the film's events take place on the night of a full moon). It's also worth noting these werewolves were still about in the final scene in morning daylight. They're completely feral, but still somewhat intelligent, and Scar seems to be a sadistic hunter.
  • Pet the Dog: As much of a self-serving scumbag as he is, Adrian has his moments. He tries unsuccessfully to grab and distract the newly-turned Jenny werewolf from attacking Ged when the latter pleads. He also loses his Smug Smile when Kate says she hopes he hasn't got any kids to screw up.
  • Sadist: The Scar werewolf in particular seems to be having a lot of fun scaring and picking off the passengers one at a time. In fact, it's heavily implied the werewolves are hunting more for sport than for food; based on them leaving Tony's body half-eaten, discarding the half-eaten Nina the moment they see fresh meat enter their territory, and the werewolf who kills Kate quickly catching up with the rest of the pack moments later.
  • Sinister Silhouettes: The werewolves pull this off to excellent effect, married with glowing eyes, dark woods and eerie fog.
  • Skewed Priorities: Paul decides that leaving the barricaded carriage to take a dump with some ghost of decency in another carriage's toilet compartment is somehow not Too Dumb to Live; with a super-strong, man-eating monster stalking outside the train. It gets him killed.
  • Slasher Smile: When Jenny turns, she has a permanent, razor-toothed Glasgow Grin.
  • Social Darwinist: Adrian reveals that "survival of the fittest" (and "the most willing to run away") is his overall attitude. As the crisis continues, he expresses clear contempt towards Ged and Jenny for being elderly.
  • Sole Survivor: Ellen is the only one to escape. Everyone else is either killed or transformed into a werewolf.
  • Strong as They Need to Be: A particularly glaring example with the train's doors. In the first half of the film, the characters escape the Scar werewolf's first attack by fleeing back onto the train and sealing the doors, and Scar's later banging on the door suggests he couldn't force the locked doors open. Later in the film, the other werewolves (two of whom are smaller and scrawnier than the alphas) can force the doors open to get inside no problem, including when the train's power is restored and it's moving. Really, the crew should've probably just filmed the other werewolves after Scar shattering windows instead of opening doors when they grab Kate and get aboard the train.
  • Supernatural Gold Eyes: The werewolves have these. In the infected Jenny, these seem to manifest around the same time that she loses her human identity and turns deadly feral.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • When the Scar werewolf breaks into the passengers' carriage, it's a terrifying and menacing moment. But whilst he easily bats away any one passenger trying to injure him, once all of them who number more than half-a-dozen gang up on the single giant werewolf and work together trying to stab and bludgeon him to death, they successfully overwhelm him.
    • When Billy is forced to hang on to the moving train's underside, he can only avoid grabbing onto the fuel link he repaired for desperate purchase for so long.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Ellen has one at the end of the film after emerging the Sole Survivor.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Paul when he leaves the defended carriage (without notifying anyone else no less) to take a dump in one of the other carriages.
    • For all his talk about being a pragmatic survivor, Dirty Coward Adrian really has shades of this the moment he gets panicked. When Scar gets on the train, he decides breaking open the windows and making a run into the dark woods is somehow wiser than trying to keep the werewolf back, and he tries to feed Joe and Ellen to the werewolves when the cast's numbers are whittled down so he can escape through the woods himself — this last one renders him completely without anyone else to stick by him and gets him killed.
    • When Matthew hears a voice weakly calling from in the dark woods (the voice of someone who was previously dragged away and ripped open by one of the werewolves no less), he leaves the train's side looking for the source. He dies.
  • Took a Level in Badass: This is the intended point of Joe's Character Development over the film. He starts off as a rather meek if dissatisfied train guard who gets browbeaten by his jerkass new supervisor for being "not man enough"; as the film progresses, he clocks Adrian in the jaw, personally bludgeons a werewolf's skull to pulp with a fire extinguisher, and goes out fighting the werewolf pack with just a glass shard (and puts up a pretty good fight against the Blonde alpha werewolf).
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Minutes after Kate unties Adrian when Jenny turns next to him, when she begs him to save her as a werewolf is trying to drag her off of the moving train, what does he do? Take the blunt-force weapon from her outstretched hand for himself and kicks her out himself. Then when he's helpless and saved from Jenny by Joe's timely arrival, his way of showing gratitude? "Well, better late than never!" Then he knocks Joe down, and deliberately takes their keys and locks them in aboard the train so the werewolves will eat them instead of going after Adrian.
  • The Virus: While stories of becoming a werewolf upon being bitten by one are definitely not unheard of, this take on the trope plays it out more like a zombie outbreak, slowly causing an apparently permanent transformation and turning the humans into feral predators who'll eat their loved ones and former allies alive.
  • Was Once a Man: After Scar breaks in and the group kills him in self-defence, they look over his body. After coming to terms with Matthew's statement that what they are looking at, is the body of a werewolf, they notice that he is still wearing a ring, concluding he used to be an ordinary person.
  • Wild Hair: Many of the werewolves have a long mane of hair.
  • Worthy Opponent: In the climax, the Blonde werewolf seems to regard Joe as this when he puts up a good fight against her, to the point of snapping at the other werewolves to not intervene in the fight. It's implied this is why the werewolves bite and turn Joe into one of them without killing him.
  • Zombie Infectee: Jenny, who is bitten by Scar during his initial attack, and then spends the rest of the film deliriously exhibiting signs of changing into a werewolf herself, with the group at one point coming to a confrontation on whether to kill her before she turns. She eventually does change, and kills her husband Ged once she does so.

How well does it match the trope?

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