Director – Mitchell Lichtenstein
Writer – Mitchell Lichtenstein
Starring – Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Josh Pais, Hale Appleman, Lenny von Dohlen, Ashley Springer
Not since 2005’s fantastic Hard Candy has there been a film that will make male audience members feel so uncomfortable when watching. Teeth is sure to have pretty much every male who watches it crossing their legs and averting their eyes, but even so the movie is surprisingly enjoyable.
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.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that the subject that the film is based around hasn’t been explored in any film before this. The reasons for this should be obvious; guts and censorship. How could someone make a movie about such a thing and get it put onto cinema screens while getting around censorship issues and the fact of how many people would go and see it? Writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein has certainly found a way resulting in a leg-crossing, uncomfortable-at-times but at the same time highly enjoyable and darkly funny little flick.
Perhaps the reason for Lichtenstein exploring this subject is to have a movie where women or one woman has power over men in the film. Probably to get revenge for all those movies depicting horrible men doing horrible things to woman, now it’s the woman’s turn. In the screening I was in I heard just about every woman laughing with delight whenever a severing scene occurred. What that says about women I dread to even think. But even though it’s not the most comfortable of film experiences for a male viewer it still is a really enjoyable film. Everything that happens is just all part of the fun, graphic scenes and all.
Even though the film has a high age rating, I still wasn’t expecting it to be all that graphic. I expected lots of bad language, sex scenes and perhaps even physical violence. But what I didn’t expect was the graphic nature and a lot of the shots in the film. The aftermath of the “teeth attacks” are shockingly shown in pretty much full detail, at least for a few seconds which is long enough for anybody. Every single person in the audience I was in groaned and gasped with shock and disbelief at the fact that they actually showed what had been alluded to for the first part of the film. Teeth promises something shocking and it certainly delivers many-a-time.
The reason the film works is because of its gimmicky premise. There isn’t really all that much else in the film to take note of, everything pretty much revolves around the one thing. But in this case I didn’t mind that at all, in fact I welcomed it. Sometimes if a premise is as good as this one is then it’s more than fine to just concentrate on that for the entire film and not try to cram anything else into it. The result of doing this with Teeth is a focused film that knows what it wants to be and makes no bones about parading it in front of the audience.
The actress who plays the “gifted” protagonist in the film, Jess Weixler, I found very likeable and very watchable. She brings a certain ray of innocence to the role that was much needed and much appreciated. There is a host of supporting actors who you will have seen in other films and TV shows all over the place and this adds that annoying but enjoyable sense of, “where do I know them from?”.
So even though the premise may be gimmicky and there isn’t much else to it apart from that it still is an enjoyable albeit occasionally uncomfortable cinematic experience. The idea is explored as far as it can without it being dragged out and the gore to accompany the dreaded scenes is used brilliantly. As far as I’m concerned; Teeth get s a big, sharp incisor up.