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Teeth

by on March 19, 2009
 

Oh my dear sweet Jesus.

I’m tempted to leave my review of the dark comedy “Teeth” (out today on DVD) at that, because that pretty much sums up my feelings of the film. 

You say you haven’t heard of “Teeth”? It became somewhat of a sensation at Sundance this year because of its unique subject matter. And while the film itself isn’t great, it’s easy to see why it garnered so much attention. 

teeth_movie“Teeth” is the story of a young girl named Dawn (Jess Weixler), a devout high school student who warns kids against the evils of premarital sex (she wears a red plastic “Promise” ring on her left hand as a promise to preserve her greatest gift–her virginity–to her husband).

It’s a good thing too, as Dawn has her own little secret, one that is dangerous and potentially deadly.

Vagina dentata. 

Yes, vaginal teeth. 

Playing up the Christian right’s fear of sex, one of their most ardent supporters is cursed with her own enamel chastity belt. 

As you can probably guess, Dawn soon finds she has plenty of opportunity to use the teeth throughout the film, with horrible, awful, permanent consequences for her unwitting victims.

Writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein hits the mother lode in the idea department, but the script feels rushed and the characters and their unexplored.

Lichtenstein allows the narrative to go off the deep end, adding in characters who exist solely as victims, such as a virginal boyfriend who forces himself upon Dawn, a stepbrother who has designs on his “sister,” and a predatory gynecologist. The characters are flat, uninteresting, and exploitative. 

But still, this film is still an interesting take on puberty, a fear of sex, and the societal repression of sex, specifically among young women. There’s even a scene in sex ed class where the penis is explored in full, uncomfortable detail by the teacher, but the next page, which explores the female sex organs, is obscured by a large gold sticker, “for obvious reasons” the teacher opines. When other students question this apparent hypocrisy, Dawn speaks up and defends it, saying women just have an innate knowledge of their bodies. It’s certainly not one for the squeamish, as we get bloody stumps aplenty. But when people complain about how there is no variey in films any more, and everything is all the same, direct them to “Teeth.”

DVD extras include a director commentary, deleted scenes (with optional commentary), a behind-the-scenes featurette, trailer and TV spot.