Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Review - Teeth


Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein
Starring: Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Josh Pais, Hale Appleman
Distributed by Dimension Films
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Running Time: 1 hour and 28 minutes

1/2 star (out of 4)

Sometimes there is a film that just rubs you the wrong way. Whether the reason be bad writing, bad directing, bad acting, or it's just plain bad. The film gets under your skin like a splinter and stays there, festering bad thoughts and feelings. Teeth made me feel like taking my hand and sticking it in a blender (which probably would have been more enjoyable).

The story follows Dawn (Weixler), a crusader for abstinence before marriage. She speaks out at seminars at school about the importance of being celibate. Her life at home isn't picturesque though. Dawn's mother is very ill and doesn't have long for this world. Her step-brother Brad (Hensley of Nip/Tuck fame) is a deviant who has had a crush on Dawn since they were children and still holds that close to his chest. But the less than perfect homestead doesn't keep her from sticking to her morals.

Soon Dawn meets a fellow "abstainer" Tobey and their romance begins to bloom. At a local swimming hole, they go into a cave, Tobey gets a lettle over zealous with his sexual urges, and Dawn bares her fangs - literally. The titular "teeth" reside in Dawn's vagina. These teeth end up biting off Tobey's manhood, effectively killing him. She goes through a period where guilt is overwhelming her.

The plot goes on with Dawn finding out that she can use her "teeth" when she wants. If she wants to have sex, the teeth stay dormant. But if Dawn wants to teach someone a lesson or feels threatened, they reveal themselves and she uses them as a weapon. Ultimately, everyone gets what they "deserve" and Dawn is empowered with her new lessons to teach men.

There were many opportunities for this film to rise above and become a cult classic. It fails miserably with every single chance. Such cult classics as "Brazil" or "Evil Dead 2" have certain characters or outlandish scenes that make them memorable. "Teeth" has not a single memorable character or plot point that makes it stand out. In fact, it goes in the opposite direction. The characters, especially Dawn, are annoying and grating. While there was a chance for social commentary (abstinence programs at school, women empowerment), those chances are squandered with bad acting, writing and direction.

Don't get me wrong, there are bad films that I consider guilty pleasures (Jeepers Creepers would be one such film - Please don't judge), but this film had no redeeming features. Halfway through the film, I wanted to take the DVD out of the player and break it into a million pieces while cursing the studio that invested in such schlock. The idea is sound and there was a real chance for something more. It is so frustrating for me when a film like this misses the mark, let alone missing it by a mile.

"Teeth" ran the independent circuit for awhile before making a quick exit to DVD, which explains why I wasn't able to view it in theatres. While I'm all for supporting independent film (Memento is one of my favorites movies of all time), this movie really makes me wonder about the decision making of some investors and the sanity of some movie executives.


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