76 years on the horrors of World War Two still plagues the mindset of humanity. In Adrian Panek‘s Werewolf (Wilkolak), the trauma of war haunts liberated children in this psychological game of wits and survival.
As much as films, TV Shows even books have educated us on the horrors of the holocaust, very few of those medias have journeyed past liberation. This film tackles the great unknown and one of children brought up living most of their lives in these concentration camps. Dumped into a grown up world without the adults they relied on to survive…Their parents.
In Werewolf, we find ourselves in Poland, 1945. The summer with eight children imprisoned in The Gross-Rosen concentration camp, liberated. Taken to a secluded, abandoned mansion deep in a forest by Russian soldiers. Left starving with no food or water still in the stripped pyjamas from the camp.
After all the atrocities, the children slowly begin to regain what was stolen from them, their childhood. However, the children must quickly use their primal survival instincts, when a pack of hungry dogs besiege the mansion. Leaving the terrified youngsters fearing they won’t survive the night.
Werewolf is a visceral experience.. We first meet the children subjected to abuse and mental torture from the Nazi prison guards. Brainwashed to take orders like a dog whilst been used as a punchbag for the guards entertainment. Outside chaos runs through the camp as the other guards are ordered to kill the remaining survivors. When they get to the mansion quickly the older children take charge to bring some order to the group.
Who or what is Werewolf? If anything it’s a allegorical/ metaphorical meaning for the state of the survivors especially the children. brainwashed, abused treated like feral animals. The dogs themselves are also victims of this cruel war. Trained to attack anyone in stripped pyjamas, like the dog in Samuel Fuller’s White Dog.
The film tiptoes into Lord Of The Flies territory. Natural leaders amongst the kids stand out, guiding the younger ones. At the same those who sadistic motives and bullying raise their ugly heads too.
The film has been quoted wrongly as a horror film. The true horrors in Werewolf are aftermath of the war and holocaust itself, Adrian Panek has created a film that never exploits or disrespect the memory of those killed. But faith in the resilience of humanity in the face of evil. This may not be the perfect film, it’s a powerful visceral , darkly immersive film.
Drama, War | Poland, 2018 | 15 | Blu-Ray | Eureka Entertainment | Dir.Adrian Panek | Kamil Polnisiak, Nicolas Przygoda, Sonia Mietielica