It Be an Evil Moon
Dir. Ben Etchells (2023)
A scientist develops a hair growth formula from wolfsbane, which goes exactly as bad as it sounds.
I came to the werewolf genre pretty late in life. For being as into horror as I am, I never really partook of much lycanthropic cinema, having just seen the classics An American Werewolf in London and Dog Soldiers within the last couple of years. Even Ginger Snaps, which I just saw for the second time after restarting this site, was one that I missed until relatively recently. I've always enjoyed the folklore surrounding these mythical creatures, and the movies are more often than not wildly entertaining and very well made, even if they do take me forever to get around to. I'm thankful to be catching It Be an Evil Moon, the debut film from director Ben Etchells, right from the start, because it feels like one that will develop its own cult following.
Lovable loser/scientist Freddy (Ian Ray-White) is tasked with discovering a new hair growth formula, working for gangster brothers Silon and Milius (both played by Rod Glenn) in increasingly more desperate circumstances. After being threatened with bodily harm if he's not able to perfect his product, he decides to add wolfsbane to the mix. He decides to use the same mixture to his overbearing and cruel mother's tea in an attempt to poison her, but her subsequent transformation into a werewolf naturally only makes things worse. When neighboring animals and, well, neighbors begin to go missing, Freddy must find a way to control the new beast in his home.
With a charming sense of humor and a deliberate homage to films like Re-Animator and Dead Alive, It Be an Evil Moon does a great job of building on an underdog premise by leaning heavily on a charismatic and cheesy performance from star Ray-White. He's silly and dorky as hell, whether he be cosplaying as a medieval warrior or stroking his guinea pig subject, and he's an everyman that helps the audience to identify with his plight. His mother Sue (Gladice Campbell) is hilarious, her words cutting him to the quick and making the Freddy character even more sympathetic. Once the werewolf part of the story begins, it becomes a bit more vicious, though it maintains its playful tone throughout
It Be an Evil Moon is still decidedly an indie film. It has relatively cheap production value, choosing to commit most of its violent acts off-screen, a wise decision with the lower budget. The werewolf transformation scenes are likewise restrained, and while the creature itself is not particularly impressive, the change in attitude is. Ray-White and Campbell both do a great job with that part of their roles. The score, actually pretty decent for an indie flick, is equal parts 80's and festive. The chocolate syrup blood is not particularly believable, but it is grim enough to give the film a horror edge that diverts it from its comedic underpinnings.
There's not a whole lot missing from the film to be honest. It does feel like it drags a little at times, especially in the third act, but the hour-twenty runtime is not going to feel too long. The comedy is a hit more often than not, but it avoids overt comedy in favor of a darker, more lighthearted tone. The performances are good, the narrative entertaining, and it's an overall enjoyable effort. The film has a wistful timbre, an ode to films gone by and a determined, folkish inclination. I look forward to seeing what first-time director Ben Etchells comes up with next, and I'll definitely be up to watch.
Who this movie is for: Werewolf movie fans, Horror comedy devotees, Just For Men users
Bottom line: Full throated as it may be, It Be an Evil Moon doesn't quite live up to its lycanthropic predecessors. It's interesting, heartwarming at times, and never overstays its welcome, delivering one of the better low-budget werewolf flicks that you'll come across. It leans heavy into the comedy at times and horror at others, and it somehow pulls off both with gusto. It's streaming on Tubi for free, and I definitely recommend that you check it out.