Like MTV’s current reboot of that franchise, “Reborn” takes the approach of The CW and — let’s face it — “The Twilight Saga” by casting pretty young things in a flashy, trashy tale of teenage love and lycanthropy. There’s a dash of “Donnie Darko” in there, too. Eighteen-year-old Will (Landon Liboiron, TV’s “Terra Nova”) is nearing the end of his high school days, which he’s eager to leave behind, given the Peter Parker-ish amount of abuse heaped upon him by the Flash Thompsons of his class.
Coinciding with his next phase of life is that a girl actually likes him (Lindsey Shaw, TV’s “Pretty Little Liars”), and — to screw that up — Will’s realization that werewolf blood runs in the family, which has to explain his newfound properties of regeneration (not to mention perfect eyesight — another “Spider-Man”-esque reference).
Having this film part of “The Howling” series can be tagged as both blessing and curse — blessing because it will get more people to see it than otherwise; curse because they’ll expect more from it than delivers. But have any of them actually seen any of the sequels? Other than the end credits of 1985’s “Howling II: Your Sister Is a Werewolf,” which repeat the same shot of Sybil Danning ripping off her shirt 17 times (not a complaint), they have nothing to offer the mainstream movie-watcher.
“Reborn” is merely average and, therefore, more watchable and accessible to the average viewer. Hardcore horror fans, however, are going to hate it. I can see why; Liboiron calls it primarily “a love story” in the disc’s production documentary, which feature-debuting writer/director Joe Nimziki makes no pains to discount. There is some werewolf action — a considerable amount, really — most of it relegated to its finale, so extended it alternates between intense and insipid.
Instead of wondering what could have been (and some terrible green-screen effects suggest budget restraints would make that impossible), focus on what you’ve got: “Reborn” is certainly passable, mildly enjoyable and solidly competent, but the generation most likely to get excited about its existence is not the audience for which it was made.
Sit through the end credits for glimpses of where the story might go from here — now that’s the “Howling” sequel I’d love to see. —Rod Lott