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Chris Alexander, editor in chief of genre mag Fangoria, has branched out in the last few years and entered the filmmaking arena, beginning with his low key vampire film Blood for Irina and its sequel Queen of Blood. Now he is trying a slightly different subject matter with the very low budget, shot entirely on I-phone Female Werewolf.
The film is extremely spare and minimalist. The main character, referred to in the credits only as She (Carrie Gemmell), is a frustrated woman who plods along at her nondescript office job during the day, while indulging in increasingly bizarre fantasies by night. These fantasies are sexual, bloody, and mostly focus on the office girl she works with (Cheryl Singleton). She floats through her life as if in a dream. Sometimes she wakes up in her apartment, sometimes in a filthy apartment. It is unclear how she gets from one place to another, or exactly what she does. She is obsessed with the idea that she might be turning into a werewolf, and constantly checks her teeth in the mirror to see if they have changed.
Her teeth do seem to elongate when she is sexually aroused, which is a lot of the time. And there is an atmosphere of sexual tension between her and the office girl. But how much of what is happening is, as it were, really happening, and how much is dream and fantasy? It's hard to say, and Alexander isn't exactly eager to let us know. He's more interested in the Jean Rollin style of filmmaking, which his films strongly suggest, in which the opium dream like journey is the point, much more so than the destination, whatever it might be. I'd talk more about the plot, but there really isn't any, for the reasons noted above. This is a very visual, very experiential film. (The first word of dialogue isn't spoken until the 28:00 minute mark.) And on those fronts, Female Werewolf succeeds. The film is visually striking, with stark whites contrasting with bright red blood and deep shadows. Considering this was shot on I-phone exclusively, this is a particular achievement. Female Werewolf is definitely a better looking film than the previous Blood for Irina, but in terms of lighting and composition. I can't speak for Queen of Blood as I haven't seen it, but Alexander is clearly improving as a visual director.
The performances of Gemmell and Singleton are good, though like everything else in the picture understated. Gemmell particularly expresses a huge amount of emotion and nuance while barely uttering a word. She expresses so much with a glance or a pensive look. She is certainly something to watch, and has to carry much of the film. Her chemistry with Singleton is good as well, showing off a taut and wary relationship with the sexual edges just showing. This is a fun movie to watch, and a lot of the reason is the skill of these two actors.
Keep in mind, though, that Female Werewolf is definitely not for the general film going public. This film has what could be charitably be described as a languid pace. While there is a general sexual atmosphere, and a few sexy women, there is very little nudity and comparatively little blood or gore. This is a slow moving, deliberate film that is going to appeal to genre nerds of a very specific type, especially those with a soft spot in their hearts for the films of Jean Rollin and Jess Franco. Nevertheless, if you are a curious student of film, check Female Werewolf out. It's a good demonstration of what one can do with very little money but a fair amount of creativity. Recommended.
Please note that this film was watched via a streaming screener, so it is difficult to accurately judge the quality of the audio and video.
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