Teen Wolf: The Movie (2023) Crams a Season Worth of Material into Over Bloated Feature Film
Title: Teen Wolf: The Movie
First Non-Festival Release: January 26, 2023 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Russell Mulcahy
Writer: Jeff Davis, Will Wallace, Joseph P. Genier, Russell Mulcahy
Runtime: 140 Minutes
Starring: Tyler Posey, Crystal Reed, Tyler Hoechlin
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
When evil once again threatens his home of Beacon Hills, Scott McCall (Tyler Posey) returns to right a vicious wrong. Upon his arrival, mysterious fires pepper the woods surrounding the city, an evil the crew once trapped has been re-released, and the ghost of someone the crew long thought dead has emerged with a vengeance. Once Allison (Crystal Reed) is taken to the hospital after wandering alone in the woods, everyone assumes she is a merely a sinister imitation of their lost loved one. Or is she?
Rushed and inconsistent, Teen Wolf: The Movie misses most of what fans of the series truly love about the show.
From the beginning, the plot of Teen Wolf: The Movie spares no time in confounding the already messed up lore of the show to justify its existence. The setup mimics a major arch from the third season where the gang fights off against and subsequently defeats the nogistune, a supernatural trickster kitsune that feeds on chaos, pain, and strife. Notably, the two characters that arguably have the biggest connection to this storyline, Stiles played by Dylan O’Brien and Kira played by Arden Cho, are missing from the events. Instead, the movie focuses on retconning Scott’s doomed teenage romance with his formerly dead girlfriend and Derek’s (Tyler Hoechlin) attempts at single fatherhood. There are plenty of other odd character choices and questionable writing choices that also bring the film down a few notches but are not as egregious.
The dynamite pacing works against the film, as every moment feels like the team is hurrying viewers to the next scene without letting anything sink in effectively. Through some powerfully convoluted writing acrobatics, this plot is rehashed and condensed from a ten-episode storyline into a sub two-and-a-half-hour movie. Consequently, there is no breathing room for meaningful character or story development beyond exposition dumps, summarizing events from the previous show, or one-liners that are meant to call in viewer nostalgia.
Of course, since it is based on a popular television show, the movie adaptation does not look as if it had been given a much bigger budget despite that being the truth. Some of the effects work from the previous series still holds up, so it makes sense why it is still utilized, namely the creature effects. Unfortunately, when the magic flairs and the fires erupt, the film version of Teen Wolf looks incredibly amateur for a production of one of MTV’s most popular young adult series from the last decade. Even the camerawork is decidedly mundane, mimicking the lifeless shots one would find in a middling CW soap opera ready for the Tuesday night lineup.
Heavy on nostalgia, what makes Teen Wolf: The Movie engaging at the very least for fans is the return of many, not all, of the beloved actors from the series. Despite the behind-the-scenes issues with the script, the cast delivers solid performances, most likely from years of playing their characters. Veteran Tyler Hoechlin and delightful newcomer Vince Mattis take center stage despite decidedly playing the role of second fiddle subplot to Scott and Allison’s new relationship “will they, won’t they” schtick.
Coming from an ardent fan of the original show, Teen Wolf: The Movie is a terrible disappointment. What could be a creative and exciting break from the series’ original lore feels like a cynical cash grab that ultimately leads nowhere story wise and actively makes the already confused timeline more scrambled and nonsensical. The cast largely looks lost and the tone leans far too heavily into fan service despite not doing much to earn their buy-in. Even still, it does deliver a few key moments that ignite the spirit of Teen Wolf fans, if their hearts are open. If you want a heavy dose of some familiar wolfishness and dumb fun, then Teen Wolf: The Movie is the fan service film of the year to support.
Overall Score? 5/10