Director: Pablo Raybould
Screenplay: Pablo Raybould
Starring: Laurence Saunders, Chris Simmons, Ben Manning
Duration: 83 min
BBFC Certification: 15
The Snarling, written and directed by Pablo Raybould, is a typically British comedy horror that pays homage to the 1980s werewolf genre, and in particular, both The Howling and American Werewolf in London which it references on several occasions.
Going into this film I was a little sceptical. I love horror. I particularly love werewolf movies and The Howling and American Werewolf in London are both high on my list of favourites. However, I am not a big fan of comedy horror. It’s not easy to pull off well, and in general does not appeal. I like my horror to be horror and my comedy to be comedy, What I expected to watch was a ‘third-rate’ movie, with bad effects and perhaps the odd amusing one-liner. To some extent, that is what I got, but I loved it.
To me, The Snarling was like watching a werewolf film in the style of On the Busses. Not quite as good as a ‘Carry on’ movie (which in my opinion are some of the greatest British comedies of all time) but still with plenty of one-liners with the predictability adding to the humour, creating an (almost) perfectly executed old school British comedy. Yes, the horror was secondary, but actually the film worked better that way. It allowed the filmmaker (Pablo Raybould) to demonstrate his love of the horror genre without having the pressure of jump scene after jump scene, or gore after gore associated with most modern horror flicks.
References to 80s werewolf films are abundant in this film. Right from the start we know this is likely to be a great homage to 80s werewolf films. The name itself is not too far removed from The Howling (Joe Dante 1981) and the title’s font is almost identical. Scenes like the two backpackers in the countryside of Wales, the pan around The Severed Arms and the eventual reveal of the beast almost mirror scenes from both John Landis’ 1981 classic American Werewolf in London and Joe Dante’s, The Howling, in the same year. Other minor tributes are dotted throughout, with scenes of the low budget film within the film also mirroring those of zombie films past.
The film in a film narrative works particularly well in this film, allowing the comedy to go one step further. The very poor makeup in the low budget zombie movie helps make the final werewolf makeup look more convincing. The quick editing and part exposure of the beast also help make the final werewolf scene more effective, with the beast itself not being too dissimilar to that of the werewolf in The Howling.
Credit should also be given to the actors in this film. They play their parts well, delivering gag after gag relentlessly, often straight-faced and seemingly oblivious to the comedic element we see as the audience. Laurence Saunders does a great job of playing the two contrasting roles of Greg Lupeen and Les Jarvis. One is likeable the other is not. Also, the bumbling duo Detective Inspector (Pablo Raybould) and Haskins (Ste Johnson) work particularly well together, bouncing one joke off another in quick succession and all the time seemingly oblivious to the comedy that exudes from them.
The film itself is set in a quiet little village in the Midlands where a small independent film crew are making a low budget zombie movie. It is here we are introduced to obnoxious actor Greg Lupeen (Laurence Saunders) the star of the zombie film and ‘all-round’ pretentious idiot, adored by his fans but considerably disliked by the crew and extras.
Back at the village pub, The Severed Arms, we meet three locals, Les Jarvis (also played by Laurence Saunders) Mike (Chris Simmons) and Bob (Ben Manning) who find themselves invited by members of the zombie film crew, to join the set. Believing that this is his chance to get famous, Les, who looks considerably similar to the zombie movies main star, shows up early and is subsequently mistaken for the actor Greg Lupeen. An interesting accident, as a result of a sausage and a spotlight, lands Les a role as Lupeen’s double and gives the other two locals the opportunity to become extras.
Whilst Les finds himself shooting distance shots as a double for the lead actor Greg Lupine, a series of fatal attacks are revealed by interspersed scenes of the investigating police officers, Detective Inspector (Pablo Raybould) and his sidekick Haskins (Ste Johnston). The bumbling duo quickly come to the conclusion a werewolf is responsible for the murders and that it is somehow related to the filming of the independent zombie film, now thought to be cursed.
As the one-liners and laughs come thick and fast, the film draws closer to its conclusion. The incapacitation of Lupeen seems to be the undoing of the werewolf, but as in all good horrors, this is not quite the case and it is quickly realised by the Detective Inspector that they may have the wrong man. Or did they?
The Snarling is not a film for everyone. Its typical British comedy significantly outweighs the horror element, so if its horror you’re after, you could be disappointed. However, it is a great film that delivers laugh after laugh and pays great tribute to more notable werewolf horror movies of the 80s. At times, some scenes drag on a little longer than needed but overall if you like typical old school British comedy, there is nothing not to like. Definitely worth a watch at least once.
This DVD is released by Left Films on 29th October on DVD and 5th November on VOD.