Truth be told, I've never been a very big fan of pure werewolf movies. There's just not enough to a wereworlf tale to hold my interest and make me care. The genre wasn't terrible before, but with the hideous teenage soap opera treatment launched by 'Twilight,' 'Red Riding Hood' and various television shows, they're especially of no interest to me now.
'The Howling Reborn' carries an R-rating "for horror violence, some sexuality and drug use," but don't mistake it for just another terrible teen treatment of the monster genre. In all actually, it doesn't even earn its R-rating and very well could have been PG-13. There's only one F-word dropped, one brief and gross no-nudity sex scene and hardly any violence - especially werewolf violence because the first werewolf doesn't show up until the 65-minute mark. 'The Howling Reborn' is nothing more than a teen werewolf movie disguised under a franchise name and an unfitting adult rating.
Imagine what it would be like if 'Blade,' 'Spider-Man' and 'Kick-Ass' were blended into one show for the CW network. That's what you're getting with 'The Howling Reborn' - a first-person narrated tale about a teenager whose mother was attacked and killed by werewolves while he was in the womb. As she lay dying, she gave birth to the kid whose hybrid powers wouldn't come out until puberty. Now, the day before his high school graduation, his power makes itself evident to him.
An odd thing about this scenario is that it only takes 12 hours for him to learn about, use and accept his unique powers. The transformation process begins just like it did in the first of Sam Raimi's 'Spider-Man' movies: our changing lead's eyes instantly correct themselves, and when the school bully picks a fight, his new-found abilities allow him to work the tough guy over with ease.
It just so happens that the day he learns of his powers, a pack of werewolves show up to recruit him to their gang. Things get extra hairy (pun intended) when they get stuck in the high school that locks down like Will Smith's apartment in 'I Am Legend.' With his back to the wall, he has no option but to embrace his power and use it to fight back and save his not-so-attractive girlfriend.
The script to 'The Howling Reborn' doesn't do a single thing that you haven't seen in other monster movies. Everything is familiar. From the werewolf-hosted underground rave where humans are hunted like fish in a barrel and the choppy black & white "dog vision" point-of-view perspective shots, to geeky genre-film fan best friend character who becomes our lead's guide to werewolfhood and the girlfriend who ends up entangled in the bloody mess - it's the same stuff you've seen countless times before.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'The Howling Reborn' hits Blu-ray on a BD-25 in an eco-friendly blue keepcase. Upon inserting the disc into your Blu-ray player, you're forced to watch an FBI warning and an Anchor Bay promo reel. The commentary disclaimer and trailers for upcoming Anchor Bay titles ('Horrible Ways to Die,' 'Super Hybrid' and 'Bereavement') are skippable, allowing you to get to the main menu faster.
'The Howling Reborn' goes Blu with a mediocre 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. For a new film shot on digital Red One cameras, you'd expect this transfer to be fantastic. Even for direct-to-Blu titles, this isn't asking much - but 'The Howling Reborn' is quite a disappointment.
Of course, the picture is clean and pristine, but it's also constantly noisy. In fact, it's so noisy that the bad picture quality quickly becomes an annoying eye-torturing disturbance.
Contrast is inconsistent due to poor lighting. In back-lit scenes, the dark foreground is washed out and gray-looking. When focus and lighting is place on foreground object in dark scenes, the background blacks are deep, rich and detailed. This fault also becomes an inconsistent annoyance.
Edge enhancement and banding are absent, but aliasing shows up once in a wide B-roll cityscape shots. But the biggest foul committed by 'The Howling Reborn' is its tendency to look like bad home video footage with special effects from the the late '80s. Sure, this has nothing to do with the transfer of the film, but its visual distraction makes it worthy of mentioning in the video quality category.
With a lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track, like the video quality, you would expect more from 'The Howling Reborn.' The lackluster mix is mostly flat, hardly utilizing the different channels.
The 'Kick-Ass' style narration is not only bland performance-wise, but in its volume too. The mono-tone narration, as well as the rest of the vocal levels, is often too quiet. The score, music and sounds effects play too loud, causing lines to be lost in the mix.
During a few loud action sequences, the sound is well-utilized, placing you in the center of the action. But most of the time, the surround and rear channels are never put to work. LFE is only present during the werewolf P.O.. shots.
This run-of-the-mill audio track never once impresses. In fact, it's the last disc you'd ever use to demo your home theater audio system.
'The Howling Reborn' isn't going to win over any non-werewolf fans with its teen drama, lack of werewolves, and creative unoriginality. New films shot on HD have no excuse for being so lazy with the quality of their Blu-ray transfers. Although sharp and clean, the only thing consistent with its video quality is its inconsistency. And although it features a lossloss 5.1 mix, it doesn't sound any better than a DVD. Don't be fooled by the franchise name and the R-rating - all you're getting is another bad teen-friendly genre flick.