[Interview] Josh Ruben for WEREWOLVES WITHIN

[Interview] Josh Ruben for WEREWOLVES WITHIN
Courtesy RLJE Films
Director Josh Ruben has found a welcoming home in horror. Having had a successful release with his first film, Scare Me (2020), fans didn’t have to wait long as it was soon announced he would be directing another horror/comedy titled, WEREWOLVES WITHIN. Based on the Capcom video game of the same name, the film centers around a small town reluctantly banding together to survive not only a deadly snowstorm but the truth behind a mysterious creature terrorizing the community.

Recently, I had the chance to speak with Josh Ruben for the DVD/Blu-ray release of WEREWOLVES WITHIN. During our chat, we discussed everything from WEREWOLVES WITHIN‘s growing fandom, creating the werewolf transformation scene, and more.

How has it been seeing the fandom for WEREWOLVES WITHIN grow throughout this past year? 

Josh Ruben: It’s really cool. Tony Hale DM’d me the other day and was like, this was great it was so funny. Kumail Nanjiani ran up to me at a screening of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, where I also saw Michaela Watkins (Trisha Anderton), who goes way back with Jason Reitman. I hadn’t seen her since we wrapped WEREWOLVES so I gave her a big hug. It’s surreal. It’s just as surreal as Scare Me was. Horror Twitter comes out of the woodwork when you’re in the middle of the pandemic and you’re like, oh my god, Barbara Crampton followed me. And it turns into getting people like Tony and Kumail and Michaela continuing to be like, I’d love to work with you. It’s wonderful. It’s amazing. I was just saying in another interview it’s really nice to hear people say [Werewolves Within] is going to be part of [their] winter rotation, or this is going to be in my Halloween queue. That’s really exciting. I’m also thinking maybe I should make one film for every season because everybody kind of gets in the mood for it [Laughs].

Sam Richardson in the mystery/thriller/comedy film, WEREWOLVES WITHIN, an IFC Film release. | Photo Credit: IFC Films

One of the many things I enjoyed about this film was the werewolf transformation. What was the most difficult part of executing the transformation?  

Josh Ruben: We didn’t have an American Werewolf in London budget. The mythology or the adaptive mythology [we used] was that this person has control over it, they could quickly kind of tune into it and sort of make it come out. I think the hardest part was, it’s so different when you see the performer and the makeup to when you finish the film. When they came out with the full prosthetics and the outfit, we were like, oh, it’s going to be so terrifying, and instead, they were really cute and we were like, oh my god, what a cute button nose doggy [Laughs]. So then it was like okay, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to focus on the eyes. That’s a biggie. Jaime O’Bradovich, who’s the colorist I’ve used for years, does this incredible thing wherein the color grade you can actually make skin sort of feel a little bit more alive, like almost giving it this sweaty sheen to it. So that was really cool. I’d say that was like a mild challenge, but otherwise, we were in the best position in the world, it was a different kind of werewolf which was designed by the brilliant creature designer, Constantine Sekeris. Otherwise yeah, it was just a hell of a ride I was happy to do. I just wish I had like five more days of werewolf stuff because that is super fun.

With this being your sophomore film, what was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

Josh Ruben: I don’t know. I mean, I think I want to continue to make sure that as a 38-year-old white filmmaker that I’m not making films about 38-year-old white dudes all the time, or at least giving opportunities to people who don’t look like me and come from where I come from, because I’m going to learn more and feel more full surrounding myself with, like, not me [Laughs]. So, doing that, sending the elevator back down, helping out where I can.

I’m also really excited about this next chapter of my career where folks are coming to me and saying, I have this tiny script can you give me advice or would you be interested in producing it? I look up to people like Mark Duplass and he continues to shepherd people. Doesn’t matter, small movies, big stuff. [He] can go off and do The Morning Show, pay the bills, but then do the stuff he really cares about like Language Lesson with Natalie Morales. I definitely look up to Natalie a hell of a lot too. She’s killing it as a director, writer, and actor.

WEREWOLVES WITHIN and SCARE ME are both horror/comedies, so what is it about this subgenre you enjoy exploring the most? 

Josh Ruben: I think it’s just dialing it all in. I still feel like a bit of a student of it and a chemist of it, like composing a decent scare, composing or channeling some kind of Carpenter, Freaky vibe, and then punctuating it with a laugh. The humor stuff I’ve been doing for a while and that’s kind of in my bones, but calibrating the spooky stuff is a big deal, it’s challenging. As a student of it, I’m always looking at what other folks are doing. Even sometimes in comedies, there are scary moments or exciting sorts of beats you forget about. That’s what I’m always excited about. Also, casting and bringing in people like Aya Cash if it’s Scare Me, or Harvey Guillén if it’s WEREWOLVES WITHIN. Having them play terror for real, but then being their funny selves. Bringing in a cast to the genre and working with them in the genre is really exciting. So continuing to do that is going to be at the top of the old list.

WEREWOLVES WITHIN is now available to own on Blu-ray and DVD.

Shannon McGrew
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