Teeth: if you pay attention to horror news at all you know it is the “movie where the girl’s vagina has teeth.” I’ll tell you my thoughts after having watched it and whether or not it lives up to its campy premise and festival circuit buzz, being out on DVD.
Teeth was directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein and the female lead was done by Jess Weixler. The plot, as plucked from IMDB: “High school student Dawn works hard at suppressing her budding sexuality by being the local chastity group’s most active participant. Her task is made even more difficult by her bad boy stepbrother Brad’s increasingly provocative behavior at home. A stranger to her own body, innocent Dawn discovers she has a toothed vagina when she becomes the object of violence. As she struggles to comprehend her anatomical uniqueness, Dawn experiences both the pitfalls and the power of being a living example of the vagina dentata myth.”
At first the movie almost feels like someone attempting to tap into the same quirky vibe present in a Tim Burton movie. It’s hard to explain why, since there weren’t elaborate fantasy sets or Johnny Depp with a funky hair-do, but it just felt that way. Yet, at the same time the director, who also wrote the film, put his own stamp on it. There is a reason Tim Burton’s stamp is way more valuable though; another thing that cannot be explained and is best felt; ha. The set-up in Teeth is a long one punch joke, meaning everything in the characters lives seems to be about repressed sexual urges, literally every conversation, situation, or shot has something to do with sex; even the holes in trees are lingered on for too long to seem like bodily orifice replicas. The joke is good for a bit, but wears thin really quick.
So, you get moved on from the humor and set up and get into the crucial turning point of things: the rape scene. The problem with the first violent attack of vagina teeth is the fact that 99% of people going to see this movie already know this is going to happen. Thus, all the power of the scene is truly lost and when you should be getting pulled out of the boring stupor that the set-up dropped you into you are instead just yawning some more. Eventually I wanted to fast forward.
The gore in this movie is quite explicit, if you’ve ever wanted shots of severed penises and penis stumps spurting blood: you’ll be pleased. However, the horror movie devices used in this film along with the campy way it is executed steals away from the meat of things which is the coming of age story involving the girl. Yes, this was a very creative way to tell such a tale, but overall it ends up as just a gimmick style film, or as a I stated a long joke with a redundantly used punch line.
On the acting front of things Jess Weixler is quite interesting with a wide range of facial gestures that make her fun to watch. She does look quite a bit like Heather Graham, but fresher. The actor who played her demented brother in the film was equally interesting to see: John Hensley.
Final thoughts: You’re probably going to want to see this just to be able to say you saw the vagina with teeth movie. (no you do not get any shots of the vagina) Aside from some interesting actors and a few campy jokes, this movie gets boring by the halfway mark and even though there is a wonderfully creepy old man in the ending, you may find yourself fast forwarding through the rest of the penis decapitations to get there.