Coming-of-Age Werewolf Horror Teddy (2021) Musters Up Angsty Howl
First Non-Festival Release: June 30, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Ludovic Boukherma, Zoran Boukherma
Writer: Ludovic Boukherma, Zoran Boukherma
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Starring: Anthony Bajon, Christine Gautier, Ludovic Torrent
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Teddy (Anthony Bajon) is going through the motions in his rural hometown. He’s at a job he hates, living at home after dropping out of school at a young age, and clinging to his more studious and put-together girlfriend Rebecca (Christine Gautier). Things start to get a little worse after Teddy is bitten by a wolf in the woods. Soon he notices changes in himself that are far beyond the normal signs of puberty. He tries to hold it together but eventually is broken down by the rage in him coming to life. Can he hold it together before he destroys himself and everyone around him?
Aside from some shocking moments and solid production values, Teddy isn’t the howling good time that it promises.
This tale of coming-of-age werewolf film leads with its specific brand of quirky humor and never quite deviates from its formula. Truthfully, I’m tired of this type of film. It doesn’t say anything different, nor is it executed better than its contemporaries. The tone is off during the entirety of the film. It vacillates between this quirky indie comedy to clumsy B horror movie doing neither justice. Furthermore, its attempts at horror feel shallow and unengaging throughout most of the film with one notable exception.
The cast does a good job here and the characters have potential but there aren’t any standouts. Teddy and Rebecca’s relationship needs more time to develop. Additionally, Rebecca’s character doesn’t get the attention she deserved to sell the film’s final act. It’s clear that once Teddy is introduced as essentially a loser, the audience knows he will target those who he feels wronged him, subconsciously or not. Characters are fleshed out in bits and pieces before they are turned into bits and pieces by the disillusioned and immature Teddy, completing this prophecy.
This could be a cultural thing, but many of the jokes do not land. I choose to believe this has more to do with cultural experience rather than poor writing, as subtitles are often not exact transcriptions of the true intent of the filmmakers. I will say though, plenty of the dialogue often comes across as stilted and unrealistic. The writing kills whatever momentum the film builds due to its sluggish pacing and lack of movement in the plot. This might be done to mirror how Teddy moves through life but somehow, I doubt that.
One of the most iconic moments of the film comes when someone is hiding behind a ledge and peers over to discover a werewolf emerging from the shadows. What a well-played and unsettling sequence! I wish the entire film was like this. This reveal is easily the highlight of the film. The audience is finally treated to the excellent werewolf design and effects that are teased through the entire film. Honestly, the work done with this scene is what elevates the film so high for me. If the film gave more attention to the badass werewolf action, it might have been more enjoyable. I would be much more interested to see a film that leans more into the uncomfortable reality about how scary it is to grow up than one that plays it safe.
I struggled with Teddy because I wanted to like it more but it never gave me much reason to root for its success. It has an interesting premise, fantastic creature effects, and a solid cast that brings their characters to life. It also gets points for a truly nauseating and uncomfortable scene involving a razor in the beginning of the second act. Unfortunately, it falls flat with lukewarm attempts at humor, bizarre choices in storytelling, and an uneven tone that never stays constant at any point throughout the film. Fans of werewolf or French cinema may get a kick out of it, but most others can easily disregard it.
Overall Score? 5.5/10