As Painful as a Visit to the Dentist
Have you heard the one about the little boy who goes shopping with his mum and whilst shopping in a clothes store his inquisitive mind gets the better of him and puts his hand up the skirt of a mannequin only to be told by his mother that he will get his fingers bitten off. Well I am sure the team behind "Teeth" have as they use a similar theme for the premise of the entire movie.
"Teeth" focuses on Dawn (Jess Weixler) a seemingly normal teenager, who helps lead the local chapter of a chastity group, lecturing young children on saving themselves for marriage. But when she is introduced to a new member of the group, Tobey (Hale Appleman), she finds herself becoming aroused and lets her guard slip by allowing herself to get closer to him than she has to anyone else. After a day swimming in a lake Tobey tries to force himself upon her with unexpected consequences.
I'll be honest "Teeth" really puzzles me as I watched it after reading it was a comedy, horror and sadly for me it was neither. But it's not just this which puzzles me as "Teeth" seems to be a very mixed up movie. Most of the time it comes across as a low budget horror, with poor acting and crumby special effects, but it doesn't have the poor camera work or production that most low budget horrors feature and certainly doesn't rely on excessive nudity either. In many ways it feels like it is a modern horror movie trying to be an old fashioned b-movie and maybe that was debut director Mitchell Lichtenstein intention but in doing so it doesn't quite work.
As horrors go "Teeth" is by no means scary and this is mainly down to there being a distinct lack of atmosphere. Not once did I feel creeped out or on the edge of my seat waiting for the next shock as every potential fright is sign posted long before it actually arrives and the resulting effect is laughable but not in the sense of being purposely funny. Again maybe this was the whole point for it to be so predictable that you would end up laughing rather than being shocked.
Things certainly don't improve on the acting front and if the intention was to pay homage to old b-movies then the direction to the cast was over the top. Jess Weixler spends most of the time looking like a frightened rabbit staring at the headlights of an on coming car whilst Hale Appleman spends most of his time looking utterly vacant. I wish I could say something positive about their performances but I honestly can't and the fact that there is a complete and utter lack of chemistry between these two just hi-lights the poorness of the movie.
But where I am most disappointed is the lack of tempo as "Teeth" just doesn't have any natural flow about it. There are sub plots thrown in such as Dawn's mother being sick which is never fully explored and adds very little to the movie itself and the love hate relationship with her step brother which again feels very much like it's been added to just provide more padding to a very slim plotline. Give "Teeth" a decent tempo and it would be hugely better than it is but sadly this disjointed approach really spoils things.
What this all boils down to is that I honestly don't understand why "Teeth" is classed as a comedy, horror as there is a distinct lack of comedy and even the DVD cover makes no mention of it, except for 2 quotes from Heat and Front. In some ways I wonder if the intention was to make a serious horror movie only for some critics to say that they found it funny and so it stuck. Whatever the reason is I can't but help feeling disappointed with "Teeth" it failed to live up to my expectations and whilst I have watched worse horror movies it was nearly as painful to watch as going for root canal work.