“Werewolves Within”: How Josh Ruben Accidentally Made a Great Video Game Movie


Josh ruben, the Los Angeles-based creator who has released a thousand viral music videos, speaks to me from a farm in the Hudson Valley near Woodstock. It’s the same house where his mother grew up, in the same neighborhood where he made his two feature films; eventually, he hopes, he will complete a Edgar wright–Esque “Cornetto Trilogy” of connected horror comedies by theme. His last, Werewolves inside, just made its Tribeca Festival debut and hits theaters June 25 and VOD July 2.

Werewolves inside features two outstanding comedic actors—Veep‘s Sam richardson and Milana Vayntrub of It’s us, Other space, and 500 AT&T commercials – and is reinforced by a deep bench of “Oh, I love this guy!” support the players. It’s a rhythmic celebration of wackos mixed with paranoid horror rhythms. It’s not wacky or campy, however; the script is smart, the performance is crisp, and the camera work and editing is always on the move. Thought Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt meets The thing, or North exposure meets Index.

This last film is a good point of comparison because even if Werewolves is a “real movie”, it’s based on a video game which, with very rare exceptions, usually makes movies that don’t mean much.

“I always forget it’s a video game adaptation because we were so independent,” says Ruben of the film and the company, Ubisoft, which initiated the project. One reviewer said, ‘Did Josh Ruben slyly provide the video game’s best adaptation to film? If that’s technically true, I’ll take it.

How Ruben got the job is a story your grandparents might love: a story of hard work, determination, smart networking, and self-confidence.

He moved to New York City at the age of 19 and attended the New Actors Workshop, where he sat at the feet of Mike Nichols, George Morrison and Paul Sills. “Nichols would come when he wasn’t shooting Angels in America or lead Spamalot, watch three hours of stage study and give wise advice such as “happiness is balance; shift your weight, ”says Ruben. “I was ready to wear the turtleneck and do the [actor] thing. I want to be the oldest actor with silver hair, a blazer, and live between poverty and Off-Broadway.

The problem was, he couldn’t find an agent. He had a friend from summer camp, however, Sam reich, and they teamed up with other people to form a group of skits. “Before Flash, before YouTube,” they put videos online and grabbed attention. At the time, CollegeHumor mainly housed “boobs, beer, and video game pics” but the site wanted to get into creating original content and loved their work. “It was my stolen film school,” Ruben tells me. He performed and directed a series of videos as a staff member; Reich is now the owner of CollegeHumor.

“If I hadn’t taken the risk of doing stuff with my buddies, it wouldn’t have happened,” Ruben said. This post resulted in high profile TV commercials and the realization of packages for James corden and Adam ruins everything.

He also gained experience working with celebrities, all from Shaquille O’neal (“I would give him direction, he would give me the finger in the most affectionate way and say, ‘Cool, I got it, Spielberg!'”) at Dr Ruth Westheimer (“She’s 90 years old and would drink applesauce from a Capri Sun pack to power herself up.”) But most importantly, that staff work led to a 401K which Ruben drained for seed money for. launch his first feature film.

Scare me, which he wrote and directed, debuted at Sundance 2020 and airs on Shudder. Ruben also stars in the film as an aspiring writer who travels to a proverbial cabin in the woods to release a grand opus. Wouldn’t you know: Just Down the Block is a highly successful horror novelist, played by Aya cash. The two scary story ideas come and go, and while it’s basically just two people talking, ultimately three, once Chris Redd appears – the film is packed with creative sound design, witty choreographed camera work, and finely tuned editing. Frankly speaking, it’s the job of someone who’s spent a lot of time in the salt mines to make sure the two-minute videos get shared a lot on Facebook and who’s come up with a plan.

“I’m a Cancer, so if I’m not prepared I’m going to get pummeled by my cast,” jokes Ruben. “And I’ve been in the situation where I realize that the director isn’t taking care of me. These directors lose respect for the actors and are being walked everywhere. I worked a long time to get here; I did additional work on Across the universe and was the last in the lunch line. I was a kid and I thought, I don’t think I could do this again.

Scare me caught the attention of Ubisoft, which had commissioned a screenplay from Mishna Wolff adapt Werewolves inside. “They put me on a VR thing to play it. It’s a game of social deduction, where you have to find out who the werewolf is, ”he says.

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