Recently added to Shudder, is the French horror movie, Teddy. The film follows the story of a young man, who transforms into a werewolf after an encounter with an unseen creature.
In the movie, Teddy Pruvost lives in a small rural town in France. Teddy isn’t the brightest guy in town, and certainly not the most popular, but he has a girlfriend, a job, and a roof over his head.
One night, when Teddy is leaving for work, he hears a noise coming from the bushes outside his home. He investigates, and although he doesn’t see what caused the disturbance, something bites him in the dark.
Teddy doesn’t give the incident much thought and carries on with life as normal. But he soon starts to exhibit some strange behaviour, including hair growth on his tongue.
His doctor dismisses the hair growth as a sign of puberty, but Teddy is not convinced. And he has every right to be suspicious, because the bite Teddy received is infectious and he is slowly transforming into a werewolf.
Teddy is written and directed by Ludovic and Zoran Boukherma and stars Anthony Bajon, Ludovic Torrent and Christine Gautier. The movie arrives on Shudder having previously been screened at the Cannes film festival in 2020, and clocks in at a fairly lean 89 minutes.
But should you take the 89 minutes to watch Teddy? I would say that largely depends on what you want to get out of the movie.
If you want a werewolf picture that will scare you witless, along the lines of An American Werewolf in London (1981) or Dog Soldiers (2002), you won’t find that here. This is not an effects-laden, big budget horror movie, that places its emphasis on atmosphere and jump scares.
Teddy is a more character-centric piece, with a slow burning narrative that unspools its plot points over time. Teddy’s journey is the driving force of the tale, with his youth and alienation acting as a metaphor for the physical changes he undergoes, and the focus is placed more on story than spectacle.
For the most part, this is Werewolf storytelling 101 and if you like this subgenre of horror, then you may find something here which works for you. But personally, this movie did little for me and despite the short running time, I found myself losing interest in the story quite quickly.
My main issue with the movie is that the central character is not a particularly likeable person. The film opens with Teddy being a bit of an arse, and never really recovers.
I understand that his personality develops throughout the movie, but even when he becomes less abrasive later in the picture, I still found it very difficult to connect with him. At no point did I really care if Teddy would be fine after he was bitten, nor was I too fussed if he simply walked off camera and never came back.
And because I couldn’t connect with Teddy on any level, the only aspect of the movie that held my attention was the notion that, with this being a werewolf movie, he would transform into a monstrous creature at some point in the film. Of course, he did, but that turned out to be a big let-down!
Teddy’s full transformation doesn’t happen until the final 15 minutes of the movie and by the time it arrives it all feels very anti-climactic. Ted-Wolf is mostly kept to the shadows during the big reveal, making the most exciting part of the movie a non-starter, and this meant I sat through a very plodding story for nothing.
I never expected Teddy to suddenly become this action-packed adventure story – it was quite clear early on that this was a slow tale – but even so, I would have appreciated more oomph at the end. By the time the movie had reached its final few minutes, I was more than ready for it to conclude.
I was disappointed. There’s no way around it.
There are good werewolf movies and there are bad werewolf movies, and while Teddy isn’t a complete dud, it certainly leans more toward the latter category than the first. I can sort-of see what the filmmakers were attempting to do with this film, but it all felt a little flat, and very redundant.
Werewolf stories have been done to death in movies (Ginger Snaps, Wolf-Cop, Teen Wolf etc) and also on television (X-Files, Buffy, and so on), and unless you can come up with something different or original, then it all becomes the same schtick. Teddy goes through old tropes that have been seen countless times before and because it is unable to deliver anything imaginative or new it ultimately lacks bite.