More noise than signal

Teeth

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

You have, by no doubt, gathered our general view on the state of modern horror cinema by this point. If not, let’s just say that it’s not particularly positive. Teeth, while not coming close to redeeming the rest of its genremates, at least does enough to distinguish itself over the rest of drivel it must sadly be mired in. That this statement in itself can be used with a straight face for a film that’s little more than mediocre is something of a tragedy.

Apparently, one of the primal fears and greatest nightmares faced by mankind is the horrible Vagina Dentata, that is, a vagina with teeth. Not so sure about that myself, as most of my greatest nightmares involve clowns and wetsuits, but probably the least said about that the better. Meet, then, Dawn (Jess Weixler) a young girl who possesses said horrible mutation. She’s decided to save herself until she’s married, taking a vow of abstinence. And… surely you can write the rest of this yourself? No? Sigh.

Well, thanks to a conveniently ludicrous ruling by her local school board the anatomy of the female reproductive system has been deemed a inappropriate one for study at her tender age, so she’s not aware that there’s anything wrong with her. Yeah, it’s just that sort of film. Accept it.

This convenient ignorance, sense of mordant dread of her own bathing suit area and fear of her own sexuality is of course laid entirely at the feet of The Church, whatever church that happens to be being more or less immaterial. Still, it wouldn’t ever be an issue were it not for the appearance of Tobey (Hale Appleman) at her school, and the resultant deep mutual attraction they share. Once temptation grows too great, Tobey attempts to push Dawn a little too far, at which point he finds out that she can bite back in areas that you might not expect someone to have that capacity. Truly a dismemberment to remember.

You can, I take it, now go on to imagine the rest of the film yourself. There are a few levels on which you could attempt to read deeper meaning into this film, were you the sort of person to read deeper meaning into films about vaginas with teeth. It’s about coming to terms with a developing sexuality. It’s about societal views on sexual morality. It’s about the dangers of denying your own instincts for pointless constructs. Mainly though, it’s about a girl who has a vagina that bites.

It straddles the often uncomfortable ground between horror and comedy doing the sensible thing and falling more on the comedy side of things, with some funny moments and genuinely clever staging. As a horror, it’s relying mainly on a slender few shots of gory wounds from the after effects of the surprise given by Dawn to various chaps’ little fellas, which ain’t going to be shocking to anyone. That said, given the state of things in this country and its native US dollars to doughnuts even these shots are not going to make it past censors, which really would leave the film without any money shots (or teeth, if you’ll pardon the pun) whatsoever. Indeed there’s never even any attempt to show this ‘vagina dentata’, and it’s difficult to see that as anything other than a total cop out. Whether I’d want to see it is an entirely different discussion, but it is rather the point of the film, no?

There’s enough smarts on display to cut this film a little more slack than its stablemates, and it’s not completely devoid of entertainment value. However, it’s quite obvious when watching that this film would be much happier as a forty four minute short than an eighty eight minute feature. there’s simply not enough substance to it for it to hit any giddy heights, but it works well enough with what it has to give a mild recommendation.

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