In the world of horror, few creatures have captured the imagination quite like The Werewolf. From the classic Universal Monster movies to the 80s hits so good even the Academy Awards had to take notice, the werewolf has always been a symbol of the wild, untamed nature within us all. Larry Fessenden, a name synonymous with indie horror, has unleashed his own take on the werewolf mythos with Blackout which recently celebrated its World Premiere at the 2023 Fantasia Film Festival.
In Blackout a Fine Arts painter finds himself tangled in a hairy situation, convinced that he’s a werewolf causing chaos in a small American town during the full moon. That’s right, Fessenden has painted a picture where the full moon isn’t just for romantic nights but a time for unleashing the beast within.
“I’ve always loved werewolves […but] The werewolf story is always a little harder to get right”
Fessenden’s fascination with werewolves is no secret. In a recent interview he shared, “I’ve always loved werewolves. They just captivated me as a kid, and of course, I was alive in the 80s when we had The Howling, and American Werewolf in London. It’s more of an outsider genre. The werewolf is always a little harder to get right. I find the storyline confusing also. Because of the full moon, you have a lot of downtime, so it’s an interesting puzzle.”
Blackout is not just another werewolf flick; It’s a contemporary and urgent take on a classic trope. As Fessenden explains, “What drew me to the [werewolf] story was being out of control at night, and then in the daytime you have to have remorse for it. That’s why I focused on the idea of blacking out because it’s like any drug addict, or any other dalliance when you have to make amends.”
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The film also delves into deeper themes, such as empathy and the way different creatures perceive the world. Elaborating on one of the central themes, involving the “Umwelt Theory” that all creatures experience a subjective reality, the director explains that this “is what I think is going wrong in the world. A Sort of lack of empathy, everybody being in their own bubble. The reality, of course, is that’s how it is for animals. A fly sees the world one way, and a wolf sees the world another way, so it seems relevant to our media bubbles.”
When asked about his future projects, Fessenden humorously dismissed the idea of working on a Mummy movie, saying, “That’s the craziest next assumption. I mean, I know it’s a joke but it’s what everyone says. Why don’t they say ‘where’s your Invisible Man movie, or your Jekyll and Hyde, or your Creature From The Black Lagoon?’. I can only tell you that The Mummy would be the last thing I would think to do.”
“Prometheus is the old, tired story of robbing from The Gods and science overstepping. Science is overstepping again [with AI] and it’s going to be our undoing…”
Fessenden’s passion for reimagining classic horror stories is evident in his work. Having laso directed Depraved (2019), a Frankenstein adaptation, he reflected on the legacy of these celebrated tales. “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was subtitled The Modern Prometheus and obvious Prometheus is the old, tired story of robbing from The Gods and science overstepping. Well, look at what we’re doing with AI. Science is overstepping again and it’s going to be our undoing[…] All the Horror stories have tremendous opportunity for reinvention”
Blackout represents Larry Fessenden’s exploration of the werewolf genre, weaving contemporary themes with classic horror elements. It’s a film that adds to the conversation of what it means to lose control and the consequences that follow.
“All the Horror stories have tremendous opportunity for reinvention”