We review Teen Wolf: The Movie, the continuation of the 2011 MTV series starring Tyler Posey and Tyler Hoechlin.
Plot: A full moon rises in Beacon Hills, and with it, a terrifying evil emerges. The wolves are howling again, calling for the return of banshees, werecoyotes, hellhounds, kitsunes, and every other shapeshifter in the night. But only a werewolf like Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), no longer a teenager yet still an alpha, can gather new allies and reunite trusted friends to fight back against what could be the most powerful and deadliest enemy they’ve ever faced.
Review: Airing for six seasons on MTV, Teen Wolf filled the hole left by Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a teen-centric genre full of supernatural beings and soapy melodrama. Despite trading vampires for werewolves, Teen Wolf followed a familiar formula for teen shows despite being significantly better than most of the series on MTV. With a dedicated fanbase following stars Tyler Posey, Tyler Hoechlin, and Dylan O’Brien, the series went off the air in 2017 with the promise of a movie continuation brewing for some time. Now, Teen Wolf fans can rejoice in the return of their favorite characters in a feature-length sequel that brings back favorites and has some surprises in store. While Teen Wolf: The Movie does not do much to elevate itself from the style of the series, it is chock full of fan-service moments that will please the franchises’ most ardent groupies.
Teen Wolf: The Movie, despite its subtitle, does not feel very cinematic. For a series that played heavily on supernatural elements, the special effects were always one of the more mediocre elements of Teen Wolf. Unlike the Michael J. Fox comedy movie that inspired it, Teen Wolf consistently felt similar to the various shows on The CW, which catered to an audience that could overlook budgetary constraints in favor of crisscrossing storylines, plot twists, and unabashedly silly characters. While shows like Supernatural managed to push the boundaries of limited effects budgets, Teen Wolf always showcased questionable CGI, which is just as questionable in this movie sequel. Highlander director Russell Mulcahy, who helmed several episodes of Teen Wolf, directs Teen Wolf: The Movie with a small screen approach that hides the scale and production values in shadow, fog, and interior sets to hide the lack of depth to this production. That means that the series must rely on the actors to elevate the material.
Except for Dylan O’Brien, Arden Cho, and Cody Christian, the rest of the Teen Wolf cast return to their roles for the movie, including Crystal Reed, who left the series in the third season. Returning as Allison Argent, Reed’s character triggers the former high school friends to reunite in their hometown of Beacon Hills, California, when an old enemy returns to kill them all. Scott McCall (Tyler Posey), Lydia Martin (Holland Roden), and Malia Tate (Shelley Henning) join forces with Chris Argent (JR Bourne), Derek Hale (Tyler Hoechlin), Jackson Whittemore (Colton Haynes), and many more to fight a monstrous demon that wants to destroy all of the supernatural beings in Beacon Hills once and for all. This means all of the beings, whether they be werewolves, banshees, hellhounds, fox spirits, or other types of entities in this series, unite one more time to save the people they love.
Clocking in at two hours and twenty minutes, Teen Wolf: The Movie is not even remotely close to feeling as epic as a running time like that would suggest. The most significant change between the series and the movie is the increased profanity and casual nudity on display. Like many shows that shift from basic cable or network broadcast to streaming platforms, Teen Wolf: The Movie uses f-bombs, butt-shots, and sideboob as a cheap alternative to actual mature storytelling. While the characters are a decade out of high school, Teen Wolf: The Movie plays like an extended series episode, which means far too many plodding scenes of exposition sandwiched between action sequences framed carefully enough to hide the faces of the stunt performers. The overly choreographed fights lose any sense of intensity and are quickly wrapped up to move onto another scene that tries to explain what is coming next. The stakes never feel tangible, which could also be due to the villain never seeming like that much of a threat.
Written by creator Jeff Davis, Teen Wolf: The Movie is complete fan service in every way. By bringing back Crystal Reed and reuniting Allison with Scott, fans finally get a moment they have been waiting for for years. But, not everyone is safe in this story, which means some characters may not survive the endgame. At the same time, the absence of the aforementioned Dylan O’Brien is never addressed, which feels strange. Overall, this entire movie feels like it was written as a three-episode limited series crammed into a feature-length film without consideration for the change in structure a movie requires over a show. Many characters are extraneous to the main plot, either feel crammed in to check a box or unnecessary elements excised from the original script. In both cases, Teen Wolf: The Movie is overstuffed with material and doesn’t really do the cast justice.
Teen Wolf: The Movie is a movie in name only. Without a satisfying conclusion and the door left open for more Teen Wolf movies in the future, this feels like a project that could have worked better as a limited revival rather than an overlong extended episode. That being said, clocking in at one hundred and forty minutes, Teen Wolf: The Movie demands an investment that only the most die-hard fans will be willing to give. While I am sure they will be emotionally rocked by some of what happens in this story, the underwhelming ending does not really offer much of a conclusion and instead feels incomplete. Teen Wolf: The Movie fails to live up to the wait that fans have put in for this story to be told by not taking advantage of what a movie can do when elevating a television series.