I love werewolves. From the tragic element inherent in their origins to having some of the best creature designs, the lycanthrope has always been a figure that enthralled me. So in theory, Wolf Pack should be right up my alley. But having watched the first two episodes, it’s clear that Jeff Davis is caught between two eras: the needs of a premium streaming service like Paramount+ and the teenage angst that fueled his previous supernatural series. And the show suffers from this push and pull.
Based on the novel of the same name by Edo Van Belkum, Wolf Pack opens with chaos as a wildfire places teenagers Everett Lang (Armani Jackson) and Blake Navarro (Bella Shepard) in danger. It turns out that the fire had awakened a werewolf, which attacks them both. Struggling with their new abilities, as well as a mysterious connection to each other, Everett and Blake find themselves on the run. Meanwhile, arson investigator Kristin Ramsey (Sarah Michelle Gellar) starts looking into the fire while siblings Harlan (Tyler Lawrence Gray) and Luna (Chloe Rose Robertson) search for their missing father (Rodrigo Santoro).
The show has an extremely strong opening that captures the chaos and terror of a werewolf story. Director Jason Ensler stages said chaos with the flair of a seasoned conductor: the camera shakes as people start running through smoke, with wild animals running into them and even trampling others underneath their feet. The screams of the dying fill your ears, and the horror of seeing mangled bodies and flaming forests will sear itself into your mind. Ensler also knows how to build up tension, especially in a scene where Everett hallucinates a dying deer. The deer’s chest rises and falls with each of its lingering breaths, and a wound in its stomach slowly opens up to reveal a clawed hand—nightmare fuel at its finest.
Wolf Pack‘s major stumbling block is Davis’ script, particularly its inability to bring all of the separate plotlines together. Perhaps the most insulting part is the storyline surrounding Ramsey – throughout both episodes, it feels more like an afterthought than anything. It also feels like the show isn’t properly utilizing Gellar, which baffles me since the entire show was marketed around her appearance. Granted, Gellar does bring a healthy mix of snark and determination to the table, but the show could use more of her. And I could care less about Harlan and Luna’s plotline; it’s predictable to the point where I called out their connection to the plot long before they did.
Davis also seems obsessed with cramming as much gore and cursing into Wolf Pack as possible. The former is understandable since this is a supernatural series and werewolves aren’t exactly known for clean kills. But when every third word out of someone’s mouth is an expletive, it gets tired. And the CGI ranges from decent to outright wobbly, particularly when it comes to the animals. They often look like cutscenes from a PS2 game – and that’s being generous.
The series’ high point is mostly carried by Jackson and Shepard. Both of them play teenagers at the opposite end of the social spectrum; Everett is dealing with anxiety, while Blake is antisocial to the point of not carrying a cell phone. Yet they are connected by more than just lycanthropy, as the show slowly peels back the layers of their lives. Jackson and Shepard both feel like real teenagers, and have the kind of chemistry that feels genuine. Every interaction is laced with a hint of a romantic spark, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the duo ends up together by season’s end.
Wolf Pack is caught between two different eras of television and suffers from it, with way too many subplots fighting for attention and too many characters to follow. There are plenty of other supernatural dramas out there that are doing what this show does, but better, and you’d be better off watching them. And maybe things will get better in future episodes, but for now, the series isn’t putting its best paw forward.
The first episode of Wolf Pack is available to stream on Paramount+. New episodes premiere every Tuesday.
Wolf Pack Season 1
- Rating - 6/106/10
Wolf Pack is caught between two different eras of television and suffers from it, with way too many subplots fighting for attention and too many characters to follow.
Born and raised in Texas, Collier “CJ” Jennings was introduced to geekdom at an early age by his father, who showed him Ultraman and Star Trek: The Next Generation. On his thirteenth birthday, he received a copy of Giant Size X-Men #1 and dove head first into the realm of pop culture, never looking back. His hobbies include: writing screenplays and essays, watching movies and television, card games/RPG’s, and cooking. He currently resides in Seattle.