FILM REVIEW: Josh's review of Adrian Panek's WEREWOLF.
Directed by: Adrian Panek.
Set in the spring of 1945 as the European half of World War II draws to a close, Werewolf, the debut feature film by Polish television director, Adrian Panek, follows a group of children who have just been liberated from a Nazi Concentration Camp by the Russian Army. However, being ill-equipped to care for the children, the Russians leave the children to fend for themselves in a small mansion with no food or clean drinking water as they head off into the woods to look for German army holdouts. What could go wrong, right?
At the mansion, the two eldest girls among the group, Hanka and Jadwiga, take charge of the younger children and attempt to find food to keep them alive; unfortunately, in doing so, they attract the attention of some German Guard dogs that eventually corner the children in the mansion that they're housed. Now, barricaded inside the house, the children are left with their wits to figure out a way to escape. As you might have now surmised from this premise, Werewolf is not a movie about a person who turns into a wolf as the title might have you believe at first glance. Instead, it is a reference to a name given to German soldiers who fought an insurgency campaign against the allies after the war ended rather than surrendering. Additionally though, it is also about the children's struggle to hold onto their humanity even after all that they have been through. While it is again not a supernatural "monster" movie, there are many frightening scenes, like when one of the dogs finds its way into the house and tries to attack the children.
Panek does a wonderful job crafting a dark fairy tale in the tradition of Hansel and Gretel as well as Little Red Ridding Hood. Like those stories, we see children who have been sent into the wilderness, made to face danger, yet perservere and come back stronger from the experience.
Werewolf is definitely a must-watch movie that shows American audiences a part of World War II we don't often see told in movies about the war. It tells the story of the people who were left behind and abandoned by the war and how they managed to survive the horrors that came after without succumbing to them.
Overall grade: A+