Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Written by Guest Reviewer Mel Odom
When Teeth first started getting shopped around as a possible film project, the premise raised immediate interest…and eyebrows. No one, after hearing the subject matter, could have been totally comfortable with the prospect of the film. I known when I read about it I had my doubts whether the movie could be successfully made in a manner that would allow it the screen time it needed at the box office. However, the potential as a cult hit and a fan favorite nagged at me like a, well, sore tooth.
The idea just wouldn’t go away. As evidenced in the DVD’s special features, the concept of a toothed vagina is spread over several cultures around the world, though there have never been any actual reported cases of it.
Still, I was intrigued and prepared for the worst. I figured the gratuitous violence and potential for maiming scenes would be at an all-time high. Instead Director Mitchell Lichtenstein choose to tell a solid story based in a dysfunctional family and with the jaded view of high school as a backdrop. Both of these areas are way too common in our world these days, and they allow Teeth to explore those areas while at the same time shocking the viewer with the diametrical opposition of Dawn’s innocence and capacity for vengeance.
I’m not familiar with Jess Weixler’s other work, but she turns in a great performance as a budding ingénue with a secret that she doesn’t even know about. If she doesn’t get typecast as the Teeth girl, I think she’s going to pull down some serious roles in the near future.
John Hensley stars as bad boy stepbrother Brad. He’s been around several television series (Nip/Tuck) and movies, but just hasn’t broken out. He portrays evil really well in this film. I didn’t like him from the moment he stepped on stage and I waited constantly for him to get his comeuppance.
The movie, for all the imagined gore that comes to mind, is surprisingly less graphic than I thought it would be. The scenes of violence are less bloody than they could have been, and were maybe more jarring because of it.
The pacing is slow at the beginning, but it builds Dawn’s character and shows what she’s up against. All the betrayal she’s going to face is skillfully negotiated up front in the build-up, and most viewers that stick with this one are going to understand where she’s coming from when the end of the movie comes.
However, the “adaptation” that Dawn harbors within her is never – to my satisfaction – adequately explained. It’s supposed to be a jump in evolution, but no one hazards a serious guess as to how this happened. Demonic possession would have been an easy plot hook to hang it all on, but that wasn’t present either. So the biological difference that gives the movie its name and its bite is more a plot convenience than anything serious.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. As with any good horror movie with a touch of black comedy, there were moments when I didn’t know whether to be appalled or howl with laughter. Sometimes I did both – at once. Teeth is a lot of what viewers will expect to see based on the premise, but the movie has some definite seriousness to it as well as a message about being female in today’s world.