Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Disturbing Sequences involving Sexuality and Violence, Language and Some Drug Use
Directed by: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Written by: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Starring: Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Hale Appleman, Lenny von Dohlen
Mixing an indie teen comedy with a horrifying concept, TEETH is a unique movie. It attained instant notoriety when it premiered at Sundance 2007 and went on to receive an extremely limited release in 2008. In short, TEETH will make men cross their legs in fear and women burst into a fit of giggles. It’s that kind of movie.
Dawn is a teenage girl speaking for a purity ring group. She’s made a solemn promise not to lose her virginity before her wedding night and intends on keeping it. When she meets Tobey at her modest-is-hottest group, things get complicated for Dawn. The two begin falling for each other and having impure thoughts, which Dawn frequently tries to stifle. Eventually, it becomes too much for Tobey and he tries to rape Dawn….this is where things take the twisted turn. Just as Tobey is about to climax, he feels pressure on his member and then sharp pain. That’s right Dawn has teeth….in her vagina. There is a razor-sharp set of teeth in her box and Dawn is horrified to discover this. Tobey disappears (missing a crucial appendage of his body) and Dawn tries to find a way to adapt to her newly discovered mutation with terrifying results…
TEETH is a movie that will either sell you or lose you on the concept alone. The movie isn’t the dark Cronenberg-level piece of body horror that it could have been, which frankly could have been a masterpiece or just a silly B-flick. The director/writer Mitchell Lichtenstein never abandons the quirky teen comedy roots that have already established by the time Dawn discovers her “gift.” In fact, the film delights in giving you some rather despicable males and setting up their fates quite nicely.
I wouldn’t call the film sexist against men (it was written and directed by a man after all), but instead a movie tries to balance out the scales of the horror genre. How often have we seen a young woman getting chased by psychopathic male? Too often. We are in dire need of more female psychos and Dawn is a likable young woman dishing out what these scumbags deserve. Jess Weixler gives life to a character that could, in other hands, have come off as laughable. The viewer feels for Dawn and by the end of the film, very well may be frightened of her (depending on your gender, of course).
The movie isn’t just Dawn going around and “biting” males though. There is a story at play. One of empowerment, self-discovery, and by the end of the film, revenge. One might say that TEETH is the weirdest coming-of-age film. The comedy is pitch-black. The characters are well-developed. The filmmaking is professional in every aspect. Jess Weixler delivers a powerhouse performance as Dawn. The movie also ends on a completely satisfying note! This is horror-comedy done very right. If you haven’t seen TEETH yet (and I can’t imagine why you possibly wouldn’t give this a chance), watch it!