31 Days of Hallowe’en 2022, Day 17: Teddy [2020]

I’m kind of a sucker for non-English-language comedy horrors, and tend to be fairly forgiving of middling quality because of the easygoing nature of the subgenre. Thus, I watched Teddy, a French somewhat-farce directed by Ludovic Boukherma and Zouran Boukherma.

The film follows Teddy (Anthony Bajon), a 19-year-old boy who lives with relatives in a shack in the French Pyrenees. He’s a school dropout who temps as a massage therapist and is devoted to his school-age girlfriend (she’s a senior, so likely only a year younger than him), Rebecca (Christine Gauthier). It’s a fabulously dull, dead-end portrait of rural French life except for the apparent wolf that’s been attacking the local sheep population. Unluckily for Teddy, the wolf seems to have evolved its appetite and, after a brief bitey encounter with said wolf, our titular teen suddenly finds, amid he’s waking up from blackouts and growing hair in some very odd places…

On that last point about the unwanted hair, I’m of desi descent so I understand the boy’s pain. But nothing could prepare me for a handful of scenes so wince-inducing that I actually sat and silent-screamed through one of them. It made Raw look like fucking Babar.

But aside from this, the horror takes a back seat to the awkward comedy around the growing pains of late-adolescence, and being on the cusp of adulthood and fears around being directionless or without passions/purpose. It’s disappointing that the film doesn’t lean into this more, particularly as it skimps on the scares and horror elements, most notably in an anti-climax that feels like a budget-restricted cop-out. Performances are grounded, especially that of Teddy and his uncle/whoever that older dude he’s living with is (Ludovic Torrent), and the Alps setting is pleasant enough.

However, some of the cringe feels mishandled; in particular, Teddy’s much-older boss sexually harassing and assaulting him on numerous occasions (though Teddy initially outright labels this as such). If that particular part was meant to be funny, it’s lost on me. Too many dudes make jokes about older women assaulting young men and boys as if it’s something the latter should be grateful for; then the outcry about people not taking male SA victims seriously when it’s men who aren’t fucking taking them seriously. If not for this, I’d have given a higher rating but, as it is, it leaves a sour taste on an otherwise passable coming-of-age horror-com.

Score: πŸŽƒπŸŽƒ

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