There are varying types of documentaries in the paranormal niche. In recent years the growing popularity of the unsolved, of ghost stories and monster legends and UFO encounters has bred a wide array of multimedia content, with documentary films and television series often drawing the lion’s share of viewers.
Small Town Monsters have been at the forefront of this wave of production since their first feature length documentary, The Minerva Monster, in 2015. Since then they have covered everything from lake monsters to sasquatch, UFOs and cattle mutilations, witches and mothmen and the topic of their latest documentary – bipedal canines, or Werewolves, now commonly referred to as Dogmen. STM first investigated this phenomena in 2018 in The Bray Road Beast, in which they looked into the infamous sightings of an upright walking wolf-like creature which took place in Wisconsin 1990s. Their next foray into the world of werewolves arrived as 2021’s Skinwalker: Howl of The Rougarou, which focused specifically on accounts of such creatures in the Louisiana Bayou.
In 2022, STM has returned with what some are calling the third film in the “STM Werewolf Trilogy” with Small Town Monsters American Werewolves.
Director Seth Breedlove cites Unsolved Mysteries and Twin Peaks as points of inspiration, among other things, and the stamp of those well loved properties is represented without blatant imitation. The film has a creepy, late-20th century, shot-on-VHS vibe that works extremely well in the context. The majority of the information in the film is relayed through eyewitness accounts, and the production team have done an excellent job of locating interviewees who are both sincere and credible.
Some of the stories told in the film are truly shocking. Here the consequences of interaction with these creatures for what we can safely refer to as victims go far beyond having a few bad dreams, and the witnesses which recount these stories do so with a seriousness that can only be described as chilling. These are not imagined tales by delusional backwater rubes or fantasies fueled by recreational intoxication. These are accounts from terrified individuals who have seen something they can neither explain nor reconcile with reality, and who have been left with a question they will likely never conclusively answer.
The film tells its story without an over-reliance on special effects, and the scenes which are augmented through costume work or animation don’t detract from the narrative flow. They’re also enjoyable to watch, and longtime fans of STM films will note the continuing increase in the company’s production value. The suit used to illustrate the tales of the werewolf-creature appears to be the same suit that was used in Skinwalker: Howl of The Rougarou, and looks no less realistic or, put simply, scary, than it did in its first appearance. In short, it works, and it works extremely well.
Small Town Monsters American Werewolves will force the viewer to question the possibility of the existence of an unclassified animal which resembles a dog and can or does walk on two legs. It will stir a sense of morbid wonderment in those willing to take the stories therein at face value. That’s all it needs to do, but it also manages to be both interesting and entertaining at the same time. Consider this one essential.