Werewolf By Night: Identifying Our Own ‘Full Moon Triggers’ and the Beast Within

Something has gotten into Disney+ in recent days, trying new things, going off formula with its most popular properties.  

It’s a dangerous game. Fandoms are a fickle folk who do not hesitate to take up the proverbial torch and pitchforks when confronted with something different.  

Will Star Wars fans accept the slow burn of Andor, and its lack of reliance on nostalgia, easter eggs, and desert planet locales?  Likewise, will the MCU loyal take to Werewolf by Night, a true standalone story without the “LOOK AT THIS APPEARANCE OF THIS THING FROM THIS OTHER THING AND HOW THIS CONNECTS TO OUR WIDER UNIVERSE” concept that is both the genius and curse of the studio?

I hope they do.  Transformations for the better, I say! 

This edition of Silver Screen Self Care is all about the latter, Werewolf by Nighhhhht! In particular, we will focus on identifying those full moon triggers in our lives and what to do about it.  

This isn’t the first time this site has attempted to tame monsters and it certainly won’t be the last.

MTMU fun fact: This was originally meant for Halloween, but I missed the deadline because life hit. So it’s being published on the day of a full moon instead!

Hunting Party

Directed by Michael Giacchino in his feature debut, Werewolf by Night is an 50 minute standalone “Marvel Special Presentation.” It is a dark and stormy night… are you surprised?… and a secret cabal of monster hunters have gathered in the wake of the death of the legendary Ulysses Bloodstone. Their purpose? Participating in a mysterious and deadly competition with the prize being a powerful artifact. So it goes in the MCU.

A pale, disheveled man named Jack (Gael Garcia Bernal) instantly becomes our point of view character. Joining him is several mysterious, but well costumed hunters. They are perhaps too mysterious. We learn precious small about them and all have so little impact on the plot. But they look good and make great monster fodder!

Some call me… TED?

The exception here is Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly), the estranged daughter of Ulysses, returning to her ancestral home to claim what she believes to be her rightful inheritance. She seems to reject the monster hunting life, which adds an extra element of intrigue to her character and motivations.

And Jack? Who’s last name is Russell (hmm)? Something’s off about him, from the way he itches his ear (double hmm…) to the dropped knowledge that this rather unassuming fellow has hundreds of kills to his name (triple hmm…), yet he doesn’t care for the prize. What gives?

Monster Sized Empathy

It’s empathy for the monster, not bloodlust or power, that drives Jack to enter the competition.

Giacchino further confirms this in an interview with IndieWire, explaining how he tried to permeate his story with the spirit of the 1930s Universal monster fliks, particularly the sympathy those earlier movies had towards their subjects.

“Those movies were never just about monsters, they were about the person behind the monster, and the struggle of being a monster afflicted by a condition,” Giacchino told IndieWire.

“To me, that emotional approach is something that I love about those movies. I don’t want to take away from movies that are only about indiscriminate killing, but that’s not interesting to me, I needed this to be about empathy. I needed the special to be about understanding and I needed it to be about looking at someone who is different and accepting them for who they are.”

“I needed the special to be about understanding and I needed it to be about looking at someone who is different and accepting them for who they are.”

Director Michael Giacchino

It’s Not All Just Black and White

One of the ways that Werewolf further differentiates itself from other MCU properties is in its aesthetic. Appearing in black and white (with the occasional splash of color thrown in a la Pleasantville), it feels like a throwback to the era of Universal’s monster movies, which feels appropriate because it made cinematic universes a thing before it was even a thing, right? 

The effort certainly proves that Giacchino’s chops as a director are nearly as effective as his talents as a composer (LOST, The Incredibles, Up, Star Trek: Into Darkness), and he wrote the tunes for this one too. He shows as adept touch at evoking the monster movies of old, particularly with the werewolf transformation all happening in shadows behind a terrified woman. It’s a real scream.

When your Disney loving parents name you “Elsa.” Oh, the horror!

The werewolf look is entirely practical special effects and makeup, no CGI. It’s not just another throwback to the monster movies of old, but key to humanizing the monster. The transformation scene happens entirely via shadow behind a shrieking Elsa who really sells it!

Know Your Triggers, Use Your Triggers

Outside of being a fun monster movie, there is much to take away from Werewolf by Night. Elsa’s story brings to mind a familiar plight, being pulled in a direction that butts against the pressure of family legacy. In one of the movie’s more bizarre scenes, there is also a real groaner of a dad joke delivered from beyond the grave. But as alluded to earlier, our interests lay in exploring triggers, full moon induced or otherwise!

I’m sure by now you’ve followed these little breadcrumbs enough to put together the truth behind Jack Russell and his terrier, er, terror! It’s easy for us to root for him. He takes great pains behind identifying the times where he is triggered and not letting people come to harm, but when it does, it will be the bad guys who get it!

We all have triggers. Things that can sometimes bring out the worst in us. Can we, too, harness these in ways that have more positive outcomes in our lives?

First step is to identify emotional triggers. Every day we will inevitably experience a wide range of emotions, such as excitement, joy, sadness, and disappointment. These would then elicit a variety of responses, often related to particular events. Have a meeting with the boss? Maybe something someone said has brought back an unwanted memory? Perhaps simply talking current events raise feelings of trepidation? It’s not uncommon in this politically charged climate.

Owning It

So with emotional triggers identified, now it should be as easy as avoiding situations, right? Nope, sorry. Just as the full moon is inevitable, life happens. And avoiding isn’t always helpful either. Things only get worse from there.

Instead remind yourself that it’s okay to feel what you are feeling. Then give yourself space, keep an open mind, and communicate with a trusted friend and therapist.

Somebody needs to try some meditation.

Here are ways to tame our triggered beasts:

A study from 2019 shows that meditation is an effective practice when learning to manage emotions. In addition try keeping a mood journal. Writing things down can be effective in identifying the patterns. It’s useful in not only the causes, but solutions as well!

The Bezzy online depression self care community has a helpful mood journal guide that can be found here.

Finally, ground yourself. There are so many ways to do this. Here are 30 exercises that can be introduced into your life.

Go positive beast mode!

Where to Watch

Werewolf of the Night is currently streaming on Disney+.

What do you think? What are ways that you have identified triggers in your own life and tamed the beast within? Are you a fan of the old monster movies? Do share in the comments below!

Werewolf By Night (2022)

Director: Michael Giacchino

Screenwriters: Peter Cameron, Heather Quinn

Cast: Gael Garcia Bernard, Laura Donnelly, Harriett Samson Harris, Kirk R. Thatcher

Rated: NR

Runtime: 53 minutes


    1. Post
  1. Lauren

    I haven’t watched or heard of this before. But it sounds interesting however not my cup of tea. Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts!

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl

  2. Unwanted Life

    I watched Werewolf of the Night, but I really can’t recall any if it. Did the film actually have links to Marvel Comics, as it was weird that it was noted as an MCU film. Anyway, I always love how you can find mental wellbeing and self-care connections in the films you post about

    1. Post
    1. Post
      Scott Harrison Rees

      I wouldn’t classify it under the pure horror genre. It’s still Marvel, after all. Experimental Marvel, but Marvel nonetheless. That said, yes, scary moments and not for young children! Thanks for reading. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *