An American Werewolf in Paris (1997)

An American Werewolf in Paris (1997)

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He was starting to wonder why the locals were staring at him.
He was starting to wonder why the locals were staring at him.

Twitter Plot Summary: The American Werewolf franchise(?!) gets a belated sequel, this time set in Paris and with more werewolves. Yay.

Almost twenty years after John Landis provided a thoroughly brilliant update of the werewolf film, a sequel was provided in 1997 starring Julie Delpy, Tom Everett Scott and an early film appearance from Julie Bowen. Was this a good idea? There’s only one way to find out…

The original is of course a classic and stands on its own. It does therefore lead to the question of why this much belated sequel was considered and put into production in the first place. There would be a built-in audience from the original, sure, but after nearly 20 years it would make sense to either attempt a reboot (sadly common in the current market) or do something original that doesn’t have direct links to the Landis film. In this instance, providing a direct sequel was perhaps a bad move. Much like the bungee jump from the Eiffel Tower that opens proceedings – whoever thought that was a good way of starting the movie needs to be shot.

Replicating many of the story beats of the original – American traveller is bitten by a werewolf and becomes one, and is haunted by the undead form of one of his travelling companions. The twist here is that some years have passed since David had his lycanthropic encounter. Following those events in London, there are now several werewolves and the action has made the transition from England to Paris. In what is an ill-advised move, much of this story focuses on finding a potential cure for the lycanthrope affliction, dumping it firmly into science fiction territory and away from the horror genre. In some instances this can work, but here it gets lost amongst the CGI carnage.

The move away from Rick Baker’s practical transformation sequences towards the more modern use of CGI is one that takes some getting used to, especially when you consider that CGI wasn’t all that impressive looking back in the 90s. They all still look very much like that original design, but despite being capable of much more extravagant manoeuvres now that they’re not a man in a suit they are a generic bunch when transformed. Not so much when in human form – everyone has a very specific look – even if that look is that of someone who clearly turns into a werewolf when there’s a full moon.

"Tis but a scratch."
“Tis but a scratch.”

Problems in the tone also show up, again attempting to replicate the black comedy of the Landis film but generally misfiring. Humour is provided by the undead visiting Andy (Everett Scott) and slowly decomposing, but the charm just isn’t there. There are a couple of moments that prove to be slightly amusing, although again because they’re augmented by CGI the effect is muted. At least we can take some solace in the presence of Julie Delpy – it would be a much worse film without her.

It’s best to ignore the partly scary, partly ridiculous final shot of the film, which is equally as ill-judged as the final scene in Aliens VS Predator. Much like that particular film, An American Werewolf in Paris has a few good moments but is ultimately nothing more than a poor homage to the source material.

Score: 2/5

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