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There’s a very horrible premise to this feral ordeal from Polish writer-director Adrian Panek, a follow-up to his 2011 debut Daas, a mysterious fable about a messianic figure in 18th-century Poland.

Werewolf is set at the end of the second world war. A group of teenage children are liberated by approaching Soviet forces from the Nazis’ Gross-Rosen concentration camp in south-western Poland. This is the point in most stories where the nightmare might be deemed to have ended. Not here.

The young people, still in their camp uniforms (they have no other clothes) are taken to a chaotically derelict, abandoned stately home in the forest, with no reliable electricity or running water, and dumped in this makeshift orphanage under the notional supervision of an embittered and distracted house mother.

Food supplies are down almost to zero, marauding Soviet and Nazi soldiers are rumoured to be everywhere about, but the main horror is that the camp guard dogs are now running wild, crazed with starvation and closing in on the children’s unstable fortress.

It’s a story with a mix of Lord of the Flies and Assault on Precinct 13. The dogs and the children have something in common: their overwhelming, unbearable hunger. The tensions between the young prisoners are accentuated and accelerated by this horrendous situation, and things are not helped by an indication that one of them might have worked out the German words of command to control the dogs.

It’s a disturbing, challenging drama, but one that perhaps begins to lose its narrative focus as the story proceeds. The children’s faces – pinched, starved, tensed with fear, pain and urge to survive – are piercingly disturbing and real.

Werewolf is released in the UK on 4 October.

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