Rating: 4 out of 5.

Back in 2011, MTV’s Teen Wolf came roaring into a very different kind of television landscape ready for a major shakeup. Heavily inspired by the format and style of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jeff Davis’s Teen Wolf become one of my favorite shows during the course of an impressive 100-episode run. Nearly six years ago, an epic two-part final season closed out Teen Wolf, yet left plenty of room to pick up the mantle and continue the story when the time was right. Here we are in 2023, and the oh-so-glorious Teen Wolf: The Movie acts as the ultimate culmination of everything great about the series. A rogues gallery of captivating villains, reuniting dozens of excellent characters, a major new storyline involving an actual teenager, epic action sequences, and at least one major death—Teen Wolf: The Movie is a love letter to the show, and a delicious reward for its rabid fanbase.

Just to get the elephant out of the bag, Teen Wolf: The Movie features at least three major absences in regards to its returning characters. Dylan O’Brien’s Stiles Stilinski, the heart of the show for many, is neither seen nor heard, though he is mentioned quite a few times. Cody Christian’s Theo and Arden Cho’s Kira are entirely absent, the alleged result of scheduling conflicts and salary disputes, respectively. There is also no mention of newest McCall Pack recruit Alec (Benjamin Wadsworth), whom we met at the end of the series finale. It’s hard not to miss any of them, but in particular, Stiles hurts the most. As Scott’s best friend and Sheriff Stilinski’s rebellious son, Stiles drove much of the action, especially as the show barreled into its later years. While I cannot deny that their departures hurt, Teen Wolf: The Movie manages to bring together nearly every other major character involved in the show’s six-season run. Best of all, each are given satisfying arcs, remain faithful to their previous characterizations, and literally everyone is vital to the endgame. 

It has been fifteen long years in-universe since season three’s untimely, tragic death of Allison Argent (Crystal Reed) in the arms of her one true love, Scott McCall (Tyler Posey). Since then, Scott and his pack of chosen family have faced off against everything from Benefactors to Werejaguars to Dread Doctors, Desert Wolves, Ghost Riders, and the horrifying Anuk-Ite. Now, a new threat is emerging. Or rather, an old threat made anew! A mysterious visitor shrouded in a black hoodie launches an attack on Liam Dunbar (Dylan Sprayberry) and his new girlfriend, Hikari (Amy L. Workman); unfortunately, they are unable to stop the foreboding figure from stealing a most precious artifact. Trapped in a jar sealed with the ancient wood of the Nemeton, the memorably horrifying season three villain responsible for my personal favorite arc, the Nogitsune, makes his almighty return!

Just as the Nogitsune is newly unleashed, multiple people seem to be strangely seeing flashes of Allison, hearing her say one word specifically: “bardo.” Convinced that Allison may be trapped in a sort of limbo having never crossed over to the other side, Scott decides to reassemble a team of some of his closest comrades. Lydia (Holland Roden) and Papa Argent (JR Bourne), who have both been haunted by Allison, are on board for a potential ritual that could revive her, or at the very least put her to rest for good. To no one’s surprise, their plans do not go off without a hitch. Instead, Scott must rely on the help of friends old and new to help bring down the single most powerful enemy they have ever faced.

Picking up on our characters a few years after the events of the Teen Wolf finale gives an ideal chance to get reacquainted with their respective new normals. Scott now runs an animal shelter working next to Dr. Alan Deaton’s clinic, and they still refer to Scott as “The Alpha.” Derek (Tyler Hoechlin) has his hands full trying to raise his rambunctious fifteen-year-old son, Eli (Vince Mattis), who appears resistant to embrace either the Hale name or his burgeoning werewolf powers. Jackson (Colton Haynes) may have moved away to live with boyfriend Ethan (Charlie Carver, another character briefly mentioned yet never seen), but he is still the same vain douchey jock they went to high school with, come to help at Lydia’s request. Mason (Khylin Rhambo), once a fellow Beacon Hills lacrosse player and bestie to Liam, now works for the police force alongside Hellhound Deputy Parish (Ryan Kelley) and Sheriff Stilinski (Linden Ashby). Malia (Shelley Hennig) is just as abrasive and blunt as ever, deep in a romantic relationship with Parish. There is a whole lot of groundwork to lay, so it comes as little surprise that the movie itself runs nearly two-and-a-half hours in length.

From the very beginning, Teen Wolf: The Movie taps into an identical energy that we left behind many moons ago. The opening credits feature a remix of the series themes, reliving key moments in a fun way. Tonally, Davis is never afraid to embrace the ridiculous fun, like when a major part of the third act involves a lacrosse tournament. One of the most emotional arcs, season 6A, dealt with memories, and coming to terms with the power that they hold; the entire storyline with Allison feels like a natural extension of that. 

Though her character was killed off due to Reed’s insistence on pursuing other projects, there always seemed to be something missing in regards to wrapping up this key relationship. In this way, Reed’s involvement feels entirely cyclical and organic to the unfolding story—Scott and Allison as a couple are fated in my opinion, and Davis seems to understand what truly makes them click. Revisiting their relationship many years later further emphasizes how special and important it actually was within the framework of the series. Another key relationship in the film is between Derek and his son, Eli, who also forms an easy bond with Scott. Eli must embrace his wolf powers whether he likes it or not, and his idolization of Scott is simply adorable. Both Posey and Hoechlin serve as producers on the movie, which I found quite charming.

It goes without saying that Teen Wolf haters or the unfamiliar need not apply. Penned by series creator Jeff Davis himself, Teen Wolf: The Movie is overflowing with callbacks to the series, and remains steadfastly faithful to established mythology. If this isn’t enough to make one nostalgic from those 2010s MTV-channel vibes, the returning cast is here to make sure Teen Wolf fans get what they came for. My love for the franchise has been reignited. Perhaps response to this film will spark a rapturous response that cannot be ignored, especially in regards to the immaculate setup during the ending that gives an easy opening for future stories. Though unrelated, I cannot wait to see what Jeff Davis brings to the fold in his next werewolf project, aptly titled Wolf Pack. If Teen Wolf: The Movie truly ends up being the last time we reunite an exceptional cast, I will forever be thankful for the wild journey it has taken me on along the way.

Scream like a banshee for a most epic trip back to Beacon Hills when Teen Wolf: The Movie comes exclusively to Paramount+ on Thursday, January 26th.

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