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Werewolf by Night

A welcome change of pace for the all-consuming Marvel Cinematic Universe, Werewolf by Night is a standalone short film released on Disney+ for Halloween. It’s apparently set in the modern day, but is directed in a stylised way to evoke monster movies of the 1950s with theatrical acting (especially from Harriet Sansom Harris), it’s shot in black-and-white – the standard nod-and-wink Marvel dialogue prevents you from really believing you’re there, but it’s nicely done.

Apparently the director went through a lengthy auditioning process in order to choose his composer for the project before landing upon Michael Giacchino, which makes sense given his past involvement in the MCU. He’s always had a thing for monster movies and you can hear clear stylistic similarities with parts of his past scores for apes and dinosaurs. He actually starts his main title by twisting around his own Marvel Studios fanfare (undoubtedly the best studio logo music since Jerry Goldsmith’s for Universal, though sadly never actually released on any of the albums) – it’s very entertaining the way he throws old horror movie staples at it and makes them stick.

The score features lots of growling brass, what you might call “creeping around music”, choir used judiciously – it’s full of little gothic touches too. My favourite parts are those in which Giacchino explodes with his action music – usually a jump scare introduces these, as in the very brief “Scot Free”, which alternates between piercing brass and slashing strings. The best track title is “A Farewell to Arm”, which also features the score’s melodic high-point, an emotional little requiem of sorts – at least until it explodes into action in the final bars. “Elsa’s Ted Talk” is a nice cue, with some good thrills at the start before it transforms into something much softer and almost sweeping. The massive “Where’s Wolf” features some thrilling, aggressive action music and is the most impressive piece from the body of the score.

The vast bulk of the score is orchestral so it’s more than a little jarring when “Mane on Ends” arrives and has pounding electronica over the main theme – a standard style for a Marvel MoE piece, but I’m a little surprised Giacchino went that way for this one. It’s very satisfying though (and the track most likely to end up on playlists). The end credits piece (“End Shredits”, needless to say) which follows is excellent – a calm guitar lament of the main theme, a really unexpected and satisfying way to close the score.

The film itself is less than an hour long so it’s no surprise that the album features the complete score (and then some – there’s also a piano version of the main theme as a bonus track, which is very nice). I actually think it could be a bit tighter – most of the music is very entertaining but there are some shorter tracks in between that take a bit away from the overall experience – but there’s no doubting Giacchino’s skill in this genre and he provides plenty to sink your teeth into.

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  1. Bart Looman (Reply) on Monday 17 October, 2022 at 13:41

    Nice review! “Apparently the director went through a lengthy auditioning process in order to choose his composer for the project before landing upon Michael Giacchino” Made me laugh 🙂