After failing to secure a coveted promotion at work, train guard Joe (Ed Speleers) finds himself relegated to the graveyard shift on the last train out of Waterloo. It’s the usual collection of drunks, tired commuters, privileged city wankers, day-trippers and hipster party girls all heading home after an evening in the Smoke. But the ‘red eye’ has its advantages, well, one advantage in the form of train steward Ellen (Holly Weston) who he’s been trying to work up the courage to ask out.

As the train races through a forest lit by the light of a full moon, it hits something half-glimpsed on the line. Something that shouldn’t be there, shouldn’t exist. While Joe and Ellen try to placate the disgruntled passengers, the driver (Sean Pertwee) climbs down on to the track to investigate the damage to the train…and doesn’t return.

Perturbed by the disappearance of the driver, Joe radios for help and discovers that he and the anxious passengers are on their own with rescue hours away. Cajoled by alpha male city boy Adrian (Elliot Cowan), Joe leaves the train, leading the remaining passengers through the forest, following the track towards the nearest station. Which is when they find the eviscerated and partially devoured corpse of the driver and are attacked and chased by…something.

Barricading themselves inside the train and arming themselves as best as they can, it’s going to be a long night for Joe and his passengers as something tries desperately to get inside. Something big. Something powerful. Something hungry, with big, sharp teeth and claws. Something like a bear. But there haven’t been bears in the forest for centuries. And bears don’t howl…

Werewolves on a train.

That’s the premise for Howl, Paul Hyett’s follow-up to his 2012 feature directorial debut, the bleak, nasty, nail-biting thriller The Seasoning House, and it couldn’t be simpler. While The Seasoning House was a raw, angry film that mixed Balkan war atrocities with a conventional revenge tale, Howl serves up a mismatched, fractious microcosm of British society (Salt-of-the-Earth working class senior citizens, misjudged chav, hardworking single mum, posh It girl, geek, sociopathic city boy, etc) forced to work together to try and survive the night when their train is attacked by werewolves.

That’s it!

And that’s enough, Hyett allowing us to get to know and like (and dislike) these fairly stock characters before turning loose some ravenous werewolves on them and cranking up the tension, making the most of the train’s cramped, claustrophobic interior and never giving us too good a look at his surprisingly hairless beasties as they munch their way through the cast. And be honest, who doesn’t want to see a British horror film where commuters are forced to battle werewolves for survival?

As the film’s ordinary hero Speleers is suitably hangdog and reluctant, as convincing as a frustrated train guard as he is when taking out a werewolf with an axe and he’s ably supported by a cast of familiar faces like Cowan and Weston as well as The Descent’s Shauna McDonald as a brittle career woman and The Seasoning House’s Rosie Day (this time getting a speaking role after her breakout role as the deaf-mute heroine of The Seasoning House) while Sam Gittens and Amit Shah both shine as chav and geek respectively and Victoria Wood stalwart Duncan Preston delivers a rallying rant that Stan from dinnerladies would be proud of.

Slick, tense, bloody and surprisingly funny, Howl’s a home-grown creature feature with bite!

DVD Review: Howl
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (4 Votes)

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