Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Writer(s): Mitchell Lichtenstein
Studio: Roadside Attractions
Box Office: $2,340,110
Release Date: 19th January, 2008
IMDb Rating: 5.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
UK Blu Ray Release? No – DVD
Jess Weixler – Dawn
John Hensley – Brad
Josh Pais – Dr. Godfrey
Hale Appleman – Tobey
Lenny von Dohlen – Bill
Ashley Springer – Ryan
Plot According to Google: Dawn is an active member of her high-school chastity club but, when she meets Tobey, nature takes its course, and the pair answer the call. They suddenly learn she is a living example of the vagina dentata myth, when the encounter takes a grisly turn.
Inertia’s Insight: One of the many great things about horror film is it’s propensity to produce high quality films out of a relatively low budget. It is a genre that allows the most insane and brilliant ideas to come out of tight constraints and a far-reaching imagination. Teeth is the perfect embodiment of such a process.
Proud virgin Dawn is a leading light in her school’s Chastity Club, confidently delivering a speech on the blessed power of virginity and maintaining your most sacred possession for marriage. All the while the young and lovable Tobey watches with awe, drawing an immediate mutual attraction between the two. They spend time together with their like-minded friends, but nature is calling for these two to consummate. As a result Dawn tries to distance herself from Tobey, admitting that her thoughts have been impure. The dreamlike sequence in which she investigates the possibility of masturbation is steeped in beautiful, seemless imagery. She envisages a man of splendour, of fine physique and delicate touch. Despite it all, she can’t bring herself to explore an uncharted pleasure. With it all they are inexplicaby drawn together. At a private swim in the isolated lake, Tobey’s libido overpowers his humanity and he begins to rape Dawn. To his surprise – and to Dawn’s – she has a defence unlike anything we’ve seen before: Vagina Dentata.
A myth steeped in folklore that told of the horrors of pre-marital sex, here in the shadow of the local power plant is a girl that is the living embodiment of it. Tobey falls into the lake sans his penis, and Dawn finds herself in fear of her own body. As she attempts to understand it, she realises one resounding common link: all men are assholes. Aside from her step-Father, every man she comes in to contact with – the supposed chastity partner, the trusted doctor, the step-Brother and even who she thinks is her knight in shining armour; all of them make Dawn realise that no-one can slay the beast she feels inside of her… so why not embrace it?
It’s a first class performance by then-relative newcomer Jess Weixler. Her portrayal of Dawn’s innocence and belief in what she considers pure versus the rest of the school’s perception of what they deem to be abnormal is perfect. The scene in which she walks through the crowd at school, smiling in the face of adversity, warms you to Dawn and her cause. You may not believe in what she stands for, but you respect that she does nonetheless. It is refreshing to see a role in film that has a young woman embracing her sexuality and opening to these feelings that she considered unsanitary and evil. All men are indeed assholes, and her affliction – or as she comes to see it, her blessing – is the ability to rob men of their most prized possession in the throws of what drives them the most.
A startling debut from Lichtenstein and Weixler, it’s a horror film that examines the fear of sex whilst placing the power firmly where we all know it is…
Inertia’s Ideal Score (* out of 5): * * * *
- During the filming of the first scene, many of the neighbours were protesting the film because they believed it to be a pornographic film.
- The “piercing” on the prop used for Brad’s detached penis was custom made for the film out of sugar by a local bakery so that it would be safe if the dog swallowed it.
- Independently produced by writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein.
DAWN: You can’t.
RYAN: Do you want me to stop?
DAWN: But they’ll get you.
DAWN: The teeth.
RYAN: Come on.
RYAN: No, no, look. I’m conquering them. See? Yeah, I’m the hero.
DR. GODFREY: It’s true! Vagina dentata! Vagina dentata! Vagina dentata!
All images courtesy of Google
Tomorrow: Night #7 – Devil (2010)