Howl (2015 film)

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Howl (2015) film.jpg
Film poster
Directed byPaul Hyett
Produced byEd King
Martin Gentles
Written byMark Huckerby
Nick Ostler
StarringEd Speleers
Sean Pertwee
Holly Weston
Shauna Macdonald
Elliot Cowan
Rosie Day
Calvin Dean
Duncan Preston
Ross Mullan
Music byPaul E. Francis
CinematographyAdam Biddle
Edited byAgnieszka Liggett
Distributed byStarchild Pictures
Release date
  • 5 August 2015 (2015-08-05) (Fantasy Filmfest)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Howl is a direct-to-video 2015 British indie horror monster movie, directed by Paul Hyett and starring Ed Speleers.


Down-on-his-luck Alpha Trax train guard Joe Griffin (Ed Speleers) arrives at Waterloo Station in time to start his shift on one of the overnight passenger train, which is scheduled to depart London at midnight under a full moon. A group of passengers is introduced, consisting of Kate (Shauna Macdonald), Adrian (Elliot Cowan), Matthew (Amit Shah), Billy (Sam Gittens), Nina (Rosie Day), Paul (Calvin Dean) and Ged (Duncan Preston) and his wife Jenny (Ania Marson). While he checks the passengers for tickets, he meets his unrequited love, the tea-trolley girl, Ellen (Holly Weston), who consoles him for being turned down for a promotion. An hour after departure, the train is travelling through a remote and forested part of the English countryside, in a mobile communication "dead zone". Here the train is forced to undergo an emergency brake to prevent a derailment when a deer runs onto the line. The train driver Tony (Sean Pertwee) goes outside to remove the body of the deer from the undercarriage. Whilst outside, Tony gets the deer's blood on him, and is suddenly eviscerated by a humanoid creature with phosphoric yellow eyes.

Meanwhile, the passengers inside the stranded Alpha Trax are all initially strangers, from different walks of British life, are passively-aggressive towards each other, and demand that Joe get the train moving. The already strained situation is deepened when the train's fuel lines are severed and the radio antenna gets destroyed in a series of attacks, and subsequently the passengers are cut off from the rest of the world. After Joe discovers that Tony is missing, he tries to convince everyone to remain calm, but Adrian convinces everyone that the best choice is to disembark and walk towards the nearest station. Joe leads the group away from the train, but soon discovers the disemboweled body of Tony. They all immediately rush back into the train as the howls begin. Jenny is bitten by the werewolf as they try to drag her into the safety of the train. The group scramble to help Jenny, then sit around debating what it could have been that attacked and wounded Jenny. Kate goes to check on Nina when the werewolf attempts to get in through the door. Suddenly Nina's phone begins to ring, and just as she answers it the werewolf smashes through a window, grabbing her and dragging her through much to Kate's horror as Nina is heard screaming from the roof of the train and blood begins to pour down a window.

Ged recalls a similar event happening in exactly the same spot - the Great Thornton Forest Rail Crash of 1963 - whereby all the passengers were found disemboweled and partially eaten the following morning. He motivates the remaining passengers to reinforce all the windows in the cabin to help prevent further break-ins by the werewolves. Paul is killed by the werewolf when it manages to break into the train, however it is killed by all of the other passengers fighting together. However, its deathcries manage to alert the rest of its nearby pack, who are now also drawn to the train. Billy offers to help repair the train, and is accompanied by Matthew to act as a lookout. However, Matthew is distracted by calls for help, and wanders into the forest, only to be confronted and killed by three werewolves just when he discovers the half eaten body of Nina up in a tree. Billy manages to repair the train enough so that Joe can start the train. However, with the werewolves circling the train, Billy hides by pulling himself up into the undercarriage as the train starts moving. Kate is thrown out of the train by Adrian and killed by the werewolves. While trying to hold on, Billy accidentally pulls on the fuel line, which disables the train again.

Meanwhile, Jenny has transformed into a werewolf, kills Ged, and is about to attack Adrian when she is killed by Joe. As the other werewolves board the train, Adrian jumps off, leaving Joe and Ellen to fend for themselves. Billy arrives to help fend off the werewolves, but is eaten as Joe and Ellen escape into the forest. With the werewolves in pursuit, Joe decides to tell Ellen to keep running while he stands his ground to fight the werewolves. Joe is overwhelmed by the werewolves while Ellen makes it to the safety of the nearest station.

The final scene shows Adrian wandering through the forest, and encountering Joe, who has now fully transformed into a werewolf. Joe then attacks Adrian off screen and presumably eats him.



Howl was directed by Paul Hyett, previously known for his effects collaborations with fellow British horror film director Neil Marshall.[1] Hyett had previously been a special effects, creature, prosthetic and make-up designer for Marshall's earlier films such as Doomsday, The Descent, Centurion, and Dog Soldiers; the latter 2002 film also a werewolf movie. Actress Shauna Macdonald played the lead role Sarah in The Descent, and also has a starring role in Howl. Sean Pertwee starred in Dog Soldiers and also has a role in Howl. Paul Hyett also worked on the effects for the British horror films The Woman in Black and Attack the Block.

The interior train shots were filmed in Croydon, London, and London Waterloo station in Lambeth. Exterior shots were filmed in the Black Park Country Park adjacent to Pinewood Studios.[2]

Marketing and Release[edit]


The Horror Addict channel on YouTube premiered the official trailer for Howl on 13 May 2015. The video currently has almost two and a half million views.[3] A total of three different official trailers for the film were released over the summer.

Four different film posters have been released; one showing a bloodied, inhuman claw in sky, hovering over the train, and variations of; one of glowing eyes looking through a window over bloodstained seats; and the final poster is a bloodied human hand on the window, with a full moon outside.[4][5]


The film had no theatrical release, but was shown at a number of international film festivals before its release on home video. Howl first premiered at Fantasy Filmfest which was held in Germany on 5 August 2015. It was subsequently shown at Film4 FrightFest in the United Kingdom on 31 August, and Popcorn Frights Film Festival in the United States on 3 October.

The DVD release date was initially set for 16 October,[6] but has been pushed back closer to Halloween at 26 October. In the UK market the DVD will be age rated 18, due to disturbing imagery, and graphic and bloody violence.


The film was met with a generally positive response and currently has a rating of 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 10 reviews.[7]

Kate Muir of The Times negatively likened the film to Snakes on a Plane, giving it two out of five stars. "Soon it all gets bloody as the (somewhat unconvincing) lycanthrope goes loco on the locomotive."[8]

Luiz H. C., one of the critics of horror film magazine and website Bloody Disgusting, gave the film a positive review with three-and-a-half out of five stars, saying that: "Howl is a fun and frightening romp".[9] Pat Torfe, also of Bloody Disgusting, gave the film four out of five stars, saying that: "Howl lives up to its title in many ways."[10]

Kim Newman of Empire Magazine gave the film three out of five stars, and said of the film: "An unashamed B-movie, but unashamed fun."[11] Mark Kermode of The Observer: "Engagingly sympathetic portrayals of stoical working women and harassed railway guards keep us on side as the action rattles through familiar generic junctions."[12] Hannah McGill of The List: "The black humour hits home without breaking the tension, while the gore - as one might expect given Hyett's background in makeup effects - is grimly convincing."[13] Garry McConnachie of The Daily Record: "There's still much to admire and enjoy."[14]

Mark McConnell of paranormal magazine Fortean Times gave the movie 8 out of 10, saying: "The film's climax made me wonder if it wasn't the director's exploration of interpersonal relationships between men and women that made me want to watch it a second time. Hats off to Hyett, who has taken the mundane British Rail journey and turned it into a feast of bloody horror."[15]


  1. ^ Bloody Disgusting
  2. ^ "Howl (2015)". Internet Movie Database.
  3. ^ Howl (2015) Official Trailer. YouTube. 13 May 2015.
  4. ^ "UHM - Upcoming Horror Movies - Movie - Howl".
  5. ^ "Howl (2015)". Internet Movie Database.
  6. ^ Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ "Howl". 18 October 2015.
  8. ^ "Howl". The Times.
  9. ^ Bloody Disgusting
  10. ^ Bloody Disgusting
  11. ^ "Empire's Howl Movie Review".
  12. ^ Kermode, Mark (18 October 2015). "Howl review – blood on the tracks in a low-budget railway horror". The Guardian.
  13. ^ "Howl". The List.
  14. ^ Garry McConnachie (7 September 2015). "Movie review: Howl (15)". dailyrecord.
  15. ^ Fortean Times, Issue 333 November 2015, p.63

External links[edit]