Film Review: ‘Teeth’ not for the weak

Hell hath no fury like a high school girl’s scorn.

Just ask the promgoers who decided it would be funny to dump a bucket of pig’s blood on Carrie. Try surviving the social clique of the Heathers or the wrath of the local Mean Girls. And if you think you’re going to win your high school election against Tracy Flick – think again.

And now, a new fury has arrived from the darkest high school hallways. She is smart, pretty and has bitten into one of the most clever, funny and downright disturbing primal phobias in the history of vengeful femme fatales.

Teeth, a film that acts as a hybrid of tongue-in-cheek horror parodies, dark comedies and twisted women empowerment messages, tells the story of young Dawn, an innocent and abstinent teenager, who soon finds that all the guys she knows are after only one thing. After she finds herself cornered in the wrong kind of situation with the wrong kind of guy, she soon finds that she has a dark secret that finally gets the message across – no means no.

The audacity of Teeth, in which the classic urban legend of vagina dentata is used as the ground work for the most macabre coming-of-age story in history, is part of what makes the film so appealing and appalling all at the same time.

While you’ll find yourself laughing and cringing, the social satire that director Mitchell Lichtenstein uses to criticize everything from modern-day Puritan ethics to the campy 80s horror films often finds itself unfocused and unsure of just what kind of movie it wants to be.

While a blend of satire and dark comedy would have worked well, and the story is original enough to make Teeth stand out from a crowd, the film progresses in episodes that work to convey a message or act as an homage, before moving on to the next.

Still, the film is just as sophisticated as it is shameless. It could have easily turned into a one-joke controversy but manages to work as smart – though regrettably divisible – layers. It’s hard to imagine the film’s target audience, as guys are likely to spend the entire film with their legs crossed and girls will likely be repulsed by the gore-happy castration sequences, the film has the potential for many fun-filled midnight screenings at film festivals in the future.

Jess Weixler gives a surprisingly fun performance as the girl who transforms from the naive, Plain-Jane into the dangerously attractive and razor-sharp femme fatale. Still, like the film itself, she remains inconsistent as the audience is never quite sure whether we’re suppose to be cheering for her or fearing her. Either way, it’s a daring performance in a very daring film.

Teeth packs in many layers into a quick and bloody package that acts as an homage, warning and coming-of-age tale all at the same time. Imaginatively demented and grossly appalling, the film sinks its teeth into one of the most disturbing and potentially hilarious urban myths of all time, presenting it in such a way that we’re screaming and laughing all the while. Hell truly hath no fury like a high school girl’s scorn. It is brutal. It is lethal. It is razor sharp.

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