With Wer, William Brent Bell has set out to make a werewolf film. Although it is obvious to every member of the audience that they are watching a werewolf film, the film seems to want to pretend that it might not be a werewolf film. There is the strange oddly truncated title (surely the correct prefix is were ?), while the term werewolf is also mentioned only once throughout at the very end. The rest of the script wants to play a game where it first teases us that Brian Scott OConnor could not have had the strength to conduct the attacks and then that he has a condition known as porphyria (which is medically rather different in symptoms to what the film wants to make it into). Much of the film seems to swing between these alternate explanations as though it is trying to opt for an ambiguously mundane explanation for lycanthropy. This is something that has a great many possibilities as the classic Val Lewton film Cat People (1942) was premised on doing exactly that. On the other hand, William Brent Bells direction is far too unsubtle to allow this to work. He wants to also give us scenes with Brian Scott OConnor transforming and going amok, whereupon all the carefully established alternate explanation is reduced to zip. As a result, all that it seems we have is a werewolf film that takes nearly two-thirds of its running time to ever unleash its werewolf.
William Brent Bell also seems to want to create a Found Footage werewolf film. This is an idea that has intriguing potential. Indeed, we have seen the Found Footage genre resurrect almost every other horror archetype the ghost story, the possession/exorcism film, the monster movie, the vampire film, the zombie film, the Frankenstein film, the serial killer film, the alien body snatchers theme but not the werewolf genre. One had hopes that Wer might have emerged along the lines of the quite good Afflicted (2013), a Found footage film that took the point-of-view of watching someone as they transformed into a vampire. This sort of happens with the scenes where Simon Quaterman becomes infected and gradually develops more wolf-like habits throughout the course of the film, although the direction this is going is obvious from the moment we see he has been bitten and holds no surprise.
Moreover, what we have is a Found Footage film that is only pretending to be Found Footage thus we get lots of handheld camerawork that wanders all over the place, is jumpy, out of focus and unclear, yet is not making the pretence to being filmed by people in the midst of what is happening. Indeed, there are specific scenes, like where A.J. Cook is locked alone in an interview room with Brian Scott OConnor or where Simon Quaterman is observing his changes, where quite clearly nobody could have been looking on filming what is happening. And so all that we end up getting is an ordinary dramatic film that is to no particular artistic end filled with shoddy, amateur-looking camerawork.
William Brent Bell next made The Boy (2016) about a sinister doll