Bad Moon is a very unortho­dox com­bi­na­tion of things: sim­ply put, it com­bi­nes a very grue­some, R-rat­ed take on the were­wolf movie with a squeaky-clean fam­i­ly dra­ma steeped in Spielbergian sur­round­ings.  The film’s mix­ture of the­se extremes is often schizoid — but that’s also what makes it an intrigu­ing odd­i­ty.

BadMoon-posBad Moon’s nar­ra­tive is focused around the wood­side home of Janet (Mariel Hemingway), a sin­gle mom and lawyer who lives with her pre­teen son Brett (Mason Gamble) and a loy­al, pro­tec­tive German Shepherd named Thor.  Their calm life is upend­ed when Janet’s jour­nal­ist broth­er Ted (Michael Pare) comes to vis­it and plants his trail­er in the back­yard.  The fam­i­ly doesn’t know that Ted was bit­ten by a were­wolf while in the jun­gle and has come home a secret killer.  Thor’s the first one to fig­ure it out but a were­wolf is a tough foe to deal with, espe­cial­ly when its wily enough to turn peo­ple again­st the dog while in human form.

Despite a cer­tain tech­ni­cal slick­ness and good pro­duc­tion val­ues, Bad Moon is just plain odd.  Director Eric Red wrote the script, inspired by a Wayne Smith nov­el, and it’s a speedy, no-frills affair that plops the beats of a tra­di­tion­al The Wolf Man-style were­wolf flick in odd­ly homey sur­round­ings.  The film runs just under 80 min­utes with cred­its so the char­ac­ter­i­za­tions and plot­ting are pret­ty basic.  In fact, they’re kind of plas­tic, with the mon­ster mate­ri­al tak­ing prece­dence over every­thing else.

Bad Moon’s odd­ness is enhanced by the sim­i­lar­ly schizoid cast­ing. Hemingway is sim­ply mis­cast, giv­ing a per­for­mance that sug­gests she’s in a dif­fer­ent movie, while Pare is pret­ty good but his work is impaired by a bumpy “reluc­tant-killer-becomes-mon­ster” char­ac­ter arc.  The real stars here are the well-trained dogs, who get put through their paces, and impres­sive full-scale were­wolf FX by Steve Johnson.  There’s also a bit of visu­al effects in the form of some mor­ph­ing FX but they’re kind of awk­ward.

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That said, Bad Moon will keep you watch­ing while you’re scratch­ing your head at its tonal weird­ness.  Red keeps the nar­ra­tive mov­ing at a speedy clip, deliv­er­ing plen­ty of gnash­ing-mon­ster sce­nes and an above aver­age amount of blood.  It’s clear the may­hem is near and dear to his heart because he stages it lov­ing­ly: the Fangoria kids will eat up, par­tic­u­lar­ly with Johnson’s fun were­wolf effects, which fall halfway between The Howling and Silver Bullet.  The con­flict between the fam­i­ly dra­ma stuff and the grue­some mon­ster ele­ments cre­ates a nar­ra­tive ten­sion: the mash-up of the two is crazy but it’s crazy in a hyp­notic way that will keep hor­ror fans lean­ing for­ward with curios­i­ty to see which way the tone will veer next.

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In short, whether or not you con­sid­er Bad Moon a good movie will large­ly come down to per­son­al taste.  If you can get into its tone-clash­ing weird­ness, it’s got its own bizarre, schizoid sense of per­son­al­i­ty.