A coming of age movie with a bite, er, twist that could have failed had it not been for Dawn O’Keefe and a well-developed plot. Some may call Teeth (2007), written and directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein, a heavy-handed feminist movie. Me? I call it pure black comedy / horror entertainment at (close to) its finest; thus, it’s best enjoyed as such.
4 stars out of 5
It’s so rare to find a movie both touching and disgusting, funny and sad, comedic and horrific. I was laughing one minute and nauseated the next.
You could extract just about whatever message or moral from this story that you wanted to, but from my viewpoint, Teeth dealt mostly with the teenager’s struggle with body image and sex and all their intricacies.
The production value and high caliber performances took me by total surprise. Often times, one or both is sacrificed in “indie horror.” Kudos to the producers for spreading the wealth, so to speak, and giving moviegoers a well-rounded picture. Also, I cannot stress enough how much Jess Weixler’s performance contributed to the film’s success. She made Dawn frightening and intimidating while maintaining her innocence and believable vulnerability.
The ending – Dawn’s evolution into self-acceptance and beginning to embrace the power she has – left me cheering yet slightly afraid of the movie’s heroine. If there’s a sequel, I wonder, will Dawn abuse her power or will she continue to play fair and only act in self-defense?
Be warned: Teeth was packed with sexual situations – dialogue and intercourse, some of which is incestuous – as well as violence and gore involving male genitalia. For a specific group of movie fans, this will be a sickeningly, sweet hit. For mainstream American audiences, this movie will repulse them. For every man who watches, you will cross your legs and groan on more than on occasion. You’ve been warned!
In closing, I made the mistake of getting involved in a debate on a forum for Teeth, so I feel it necessary to add the following to, hopefully, head off any hate mail:
Before anyone posts a comment that I must be a feminist since I enjoyed this movie, let me clarify that it’s not what happens to the men, or even the portrayal of men, in this movie that I loved. The film’s theme of coming to accept who we are and embracing that individuality, and the sense of empowerment one receives from that acceptance is what I loved. Not the penis-munchin’ vagina. Yes, vagina dentata was an interesting concept, but like I noted above, the movie would’ve failed had it relied solely on that concept and not developed the characters and plot to their fullest.
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.
(DVD viewed on 5/7/2008)