An American Werewolf in Paris (1997)

werewolf-in-parisThis movie proves without a doubt that just because you have a snazzy set of computers and artists, doesn’t mean you can replicate good old fashioned special effects. Sometimes the actual material and human actors can be much more effective than dapper computer animation that, even in 1997, looked like cut scenes from a Playstation video game. Of course it’s not like studios ever really learned their lesson after “An American Werewolf in Paris” landed with a thud in 1997. They just tried and tried until they succeeded. Supposedly in development for six years, “An American Werewolf in Paris” feels as if someone had the bright idea to remake the John Landis eighties classic “An American Werewolf in London,” backed out, and then kicked up production again once computer technology advanced. And then somewhere along the line a remake of a classic horror comedy became a stale and brutally underwhelming horror comedy that failed to amount to even an ounce of the charisma and brilliance that the first film did.

I’m not even going to call this a sequel to “An American Werewolf in London.” It apes the premise of the aforementioned film and takes its own twists and turns, let’s just leave it at that. The film tries to link itself to the John Landis classic (insisting Alex from the first film became pregnant from David and gave birth to character Serafine, the cursed Parisian as played by Delpy) while simultaneously insisting it’s its own standalone horror picture. The plot to “An American Werewolf in Paris” is often muddled and confusing with elements involving werewolf cults, werewolf night clubs, and Scott playing a man who is forced to confront the cult as he deals with his transformation as a werewolf himself. All the while he displays little to no chemistry with co-star Delpy, who plays a woman struggling with her own werewolf affliction, herself.

Again I must stress, this is the nineties, a time where Steven Spielberg made dinosaurs come to life on the big screen in 1993 to much acclaim in a film that still looks remarkable for its age, and “An American Werewolf in Paris” just looks incredibly bargain basement with werewolves that look sleek but aren’t terrifying. Say what you want about CGI, but there’s no replacing Rick Baker. It can not be done. Basically, the producers cast the most affordable hip young actor of the nineties a la Tom Everett Scott McNeal Trump Pressley, and just to save Julie Delpy from having to travel by plane, completely set the movie in and around actual landscapes of Paris. Delpy of course is the Indie Arthouse queen of the nineties and inexplicably plays femme fatale in this horror film with much furrowed brows and head scratching to follow. Delpy is a charming and somewhat enchanting actress, but a femme fatale she is not. What “An American Werewolf in London” mastered was the uneasy laughter.

We found time to chuckle through the film, but when it wanted to be dramatic, we stopped and just gazed in awe. “Paris” has a running gag about hitting your head on the Eiffel Tower a lot, and never quite figures out how to make us care about these people featured in this harrowing situation in a foreign land. “Paris” is but a footnote of the genre in the decade of the nineties, and a rather piss poor entry in the sub-genre of werewolf films that’s too unoriginal to be its own film, and much too lame to be considered a sequel to “An American Werewolf in London.” A missed opportunity in every sense of the word, “An American Werewolf in Paris” is yet another film from the nineties that can’t decide if it’s a remake or a sequel. With a woefully miscast series of actors, including Julie Delpy, it’s a painfully dated horror comedy that aged well before the end of 1997.