Reviewed by Andrew Kasch
Starring Jess Weixler, John Hensley, Josh Pais, Hale Appleman
Directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein
Dawn is a girl “worth waiting for.” Spear-heading her school’s abstinence program, she’s one chastity belt short of a full blown nun and the subject of mockery from most of her classmates. But when she falls for a clean-cut mama’s boy, she finds she can’t keep those sexual urges repressed forever. Unfortunately for Dawn (and a lot of men) her naughty bits conceal more than the world’s strongest hymen. Her vagina is full of razor-sharp teeth that like to chow down on the manhood of her partners.
Teeth is the best movie about blood-thirsty vaginas ever made. That said, this isn’t B-movie level schlock. Instead writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein goes for a carefully crafted high-brow satire of sex and family values, like a coming-of-age story via David Cronenberg (only with a lot more laughs). Played with a straight face, this is the most twisted story of female empowerment ever told and goes for equal parts character drama and gallows humor – with plenty of bloody shocks thrown in for good measure.
The story is simple, but the characters aren’t and that’s what gives this movie legs. Teeth rests entirely on the shoulders of its lead actress and newcomer Jess Weixler gives a paranoid performance worthy of Angela Bettis. On the surface, she’s the exact sort of sexy, naive, doe-eyed girl the Japanese would fantasize about being raped by tentacles. Underneath she’s a dense, multi-layered character and it’s easy to sympathize with her sexual and mental dysfunctions, no matter what your chromosome mixture. Some people will (and have) accuse this film of being sexist, which is easy since every man acts like a chauvinist pig, but through nuanced writing and direction, Lichtenstein portrays the supporting cast as typical high-school males rather than cardboard horn-dogs. He is a man, after all.
Once all the characters have been set up, it’s easy to predict how the story will play out, but Dawn’s journey of self-discovery is still a funny and bizarre ride. A film like Teeth could’ve easily been a one-joke Troma movie or a hollow feminist tirade, but it wisely takes the high road as a quirky indie shocker and will have both sexes guarding their genitals from beginning to end.
4 out of 5
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