ALFIE THE LITTLE WEREWOLF
I went into Alfie the Little Werewolf, which was screening at Vancouvers R2R International Film Festival for Youth, with little expectation. The nearest point of comparison I could think of was The Little Vampire (2000), which was similarly based on a popular series of childrens books and did an okay job of taking a classical horror figure and writing it down to the childrens market. (Indeed, this films werewolf boy Ole Kroes bears an uncanny resemblance to a younger version of The Little Vampires Jonathan Lipnicki). On the other hand, I had also recently seen another childrens movie attempt to riff off the vampire film with the excruciating Vampire Dog (2012), which is a strong contender for the worst vampire film ever.
You keep expecting Alfie the Little Werewolf to be a piece of formula childrens entertainment. In an American film or something like Vampire Dog, the characters of the paranoid neighbour (Trudy Labij) or the school bully (Nick Geest) would be over-the-top one-note caricatures played for maximum slapstick and made into the butt of constant pratfalls and humiliations at every opportunity. The great surprise is that Alfie the Little Werewolf resists every opportunity for the cutsie and to go for cliche cues. It has a genuine sweetness and an endearingly warm sense of humour. Its parable of loneliness and a desire for inclusion is well told, nothing laid on with a trowel and the film earns its eventual emotional uplift without the feeling that it has signposted everything with cue cards for its audience. Perhaps the oddest part is the scenes where the film seems to want to make some point about non-traditional parenting roles and the father (Remko Vrijdag) goes from wearing an apron in the kitchen to turning up to do the plumbing wearing his wifes bathing suit.
The werewolf effects are surprisingly well achieved. The image of the white fluffy werewolf running around with a pair of glasses or forlornly sitting on a park bench is one of the most adorable sights in the world. The initial transformation effects work rather well and the makeup effects on the actors look fine, even if it does take you aback somewhat seeing a fully transformed werewolf that looks more like a sheepdog. Particularly good are the scenes where we see Alfie loping about the town. Here the film makes an accomplished shift between two-legged and Alfie running four-legged like a dog and in a way that keeps you constantly guessing how they did it at what point it is a human actor and which the move has been made to CGI replacement.
(Screening courtesy of the R2R International Film Festival for Youth)
Trailer here (Dutch language no subs):-