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[Sundance ’23] ‘My Animal’ review: The most romantic werewolf story ever?

Family drama, romance, and werewolves.

When it comes to erotic horror, vampires tend to be the most sensual while werewolves are more untamed. My Animal does not change this perception completely, but it does paint its main character in a slightly different light. Heather (Bobbi salvör Menuez, Euphoria) has an alcoholic mother and cannot leave her house when there is a full moon. When she meets a figure skater named Jonny (Amandala Stenberg, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies) her life becomes even more complicated.

My Animal initially looks like it is going to play up its horror elements. The cold open lets audiences know that Heather is cursed and she and her family are doing what they can to minimize any damage. It is a familiar scene that seemingly sets the tone. It proves to be a case of misdirection as the film has a much different story to tell. My Animal is a more romantic tale about Heather’s growing attraction to Jonny.

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Menuez and Stenberg have great chemistry and there is an almost visible spark when the two first see each other. There is a natural quality to each of their interactions that makes their growing relationship feel genuine. Since the most important parts of My Animal revolve around the two, it makes My Animal that much easier to become immersed in.

Heather has chosen to make herself something of an outsider due to her condition. As the plot progresses, she is separated from the rest of the town she lives in – and even members of her family – for other reasons. It is sad to see how things transpire, but it is also a part of her journey. Much like she has accepted the family curse, she is also confident with who she is.

[Sundance '23] 'My Animal' review: The most romantic werewolf story ever?

A still from My Animal by Jacqueline Castel, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

My Animal makes great use of red lighting. It is used to enhance some of the more romantic dreamlike sequences and also adds to the emotion in a number of pivotal moments. The synth heavy score is perfect for a horror movie, but not the best fit for a more romantic tale. That being said, it never feels out of place here as it is only used when appropriate.

Overall, the film is a great take on the traditional creature feature. So much focus is placed on its characters, that it would be best described as a love story that just happens to have a werewolf in it. It is a sad tale of love and heartbreak that is also about not being ashamed of who you are.

The Sundance Film Festival takes place from January 19 -29. Full lineup can be found HERE

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