Director Jacqueline Castel renders all of this with a keen eye for mood and style. Cinematographer Bryn McCashin washes the film in blood-red lighting and deep, dark shadows — while avoiding making what’s up on screen incomprehensible. We can see through the gloom thanks to beams of cold light that cut through all that dark. The snowy climate invokes a coldness in the viewer that matches the film’s slow, deliberate pacing. Through it all, Augustus Muller’s synth-based score gives the entire endeavor an appropriately John Carpenter-esque vibe that heightens the tension.
All of this is quite good, as is Menuez, who brings a deep sadness mixed with plucky confidence to the part. But the script, penned by Jae Matthews, is oddly flat. The premise is sound, as is the idea of grafting a queer narrative onto a werewolf feature. But after the initial set-up, “My Animal” runs out of road. Scenes grow repetitive, and a conflict that arises between Heather and Johnny’s boyfriend, a real d-bag named Rick (Cory Lipman), comes across as bland and predictable. And the relationship between Heather and Johnny, the central element to this whole story, is never as fully formed as it could be.
Ultimately, the film’s style is what elevates it. Every frame is either haunting or gorgeous or sometimes both. It signals that Castel knows exactly what she’s doing here, even if the script she’s working with can’t quite match her talents. “My Animal” doesn’t break the werewolf movie mold, but it has enough bite to howl about.
/Film Rating: 6 out of 10
/Film – ‘Slash Film: My Animal Review: A Queer Werewolf Tale With Style To Spare [Sundance]’
Author: Chris Evangelista
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January 25, 2023