There’s nothing like a good werewolf movie to help you ring in the foggy, full moon season. I’ll take a new werewolf movie any day of the week, but a new werewolf movie right at the beginning of the Halloween season is like opening the first door of an advent calendar and finding a brick of gold. Teddy, written and directed by Ludovic Boukherma & Zoran Boukherma celebrated it’s North American premiere at Celebration of Fantastic Fest 2020, the digital edition of this year’s Fantastic Fest. Unlike most “transformation” movies that use a coming-of-age backdrop to hang their story on, Ludovic & Zoran Boukherma bring to life a character who has already aged out of his growing pains. Rather than grappling with puberty, Teddy is mutating into a version of the disgusting animal everyone in his community already thinks he’s become.
Teddy, played perfectly by Anthony Bajan, is a really interesting character. He’s bullied by everyone his own age, spit-on and taken advantage of by everyone older than him, and he’s also kind of a little shit that is always asking for trouble. But Teddy is also a gentle, loveable kid who has the utmost respect for his family and would do anything for the girl he loves. He may not have the aspirations of his classmates, but rather than wasting time chasing an impossible dream he just wants to work hard at building a quiet life that he can enjoy with a family of his own in the French countryside. Of course, like all big bad wolves fated for a tragic end, it’s that very love that turns him into a monster.
Poor Teddy. All he wanted was to be left alone. He was robbed of his dignity before he was even born, by a town that didn’t respect his family enough to make sure they spelled his grandfather’s name correctly on their WWII memorial. That all changes one fateful night when he’s attacked by a mysterious beast in the forest outside his home. His brother insists it’s the Boogeyman, Teddy is certain it was just a stray dog, but the rest of town (plagued by the mysterious deaths of their livestock) believe there is a rogue wolf that must be cornered and killed. Teddy‘s got all the trappings of your favorite wolfman stories, even some really effective moments of minimalist body horror.
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The approach to horror in Teddy is very subtle but it’s just enough to make you squirm when the Boukhermas want you to. Let’s just say I’m going to think twice about putting a razor to my tongue if thick wolf-like hairs start sprouting up after I’m attacked under a full moon by a snarling beast. And if a massacre is all you’re really looking for in a werewolf movie, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Again, there is restraint in all the gory details of this particular wolfy story but it plays well against the rest of Teddy‘s quiet, plodding nature.
Indie werewolf films are incredibly ambitious projects and the Boukhermas really go full-moon with Teddy. Although there is very little screen time for the main attraction, Anthony Bajan brings the humanity needed to make this werewolf story truly tragic. Who’s to say who the real monster is a werewolf movie, anyway. Is it really the folks who meet a grizzly end, or is it the quiet, simple boy that explodes one day after every person in his life rejected him when it was more convenient than getting to know him? There are no winners in a good werewolf story, especially when winning is nothing more than being the one person to walk away from a beastly slaughter. In an alternate universe, Teddy could have just as easily been school-shooter, pushed over the edge after years of torment and bullying, but Teddy never wanted to hurt anyone. It’s just a real shame they all decided to hurt him first, before they realized just how sharp this poor boy’s claws really were.
Ludovic & Zoran Boukherma’s Teddy Celebrated it’s North American premiere at Celebration of Fantastic Fest 2020, the digital edition of Austin, Texas’ premiere genre film festival. Click HERE to follow all of our coverage of the fest, and be sure to let us know all about your favorite werewolf movies over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit, and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club!