Dawn grows up in the shadow of a nuclear power plant. In high school, while her biology class studies evolution, she realizes she may have a hidden curse, an "adaptation." She lives with her mom, step-father, and hard-edged step-brother. She likes Tobey, a guy at school, and he likes her. She takes a pledge to remain chaste until marriage, so they date in groups, watch G-rated films, and don't kiss, but the power of teen hormones is great, so temptation beckons. Dawn has an admirer in Ryan, and when when things have an unexpected twist with Tobey, she turns to Ryan for help. Will he be her mythical hero and rescue her? Or can she find her way as her own hero, turning the curse into an asset? Written by
The trend of imbuing horror films with a quirky sense of irony cribbed from the hell that is adolescence (think "Ghost World" with gore) may have finally run out of steam with "Teeth," a moderately impressive (though unspectacular) yet overly precious and self-aware stab at subverting the genre's gender roles. Writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein's concept (a puritanical virgin who grows up next to a nuclear power plant discovers a mean set of incisors below the waist when her sexuality blooms) is intriguing, and some of the film's best moments possess a surreal quality that almost transforms the material into a metaphorical extension of Dawn's (Jess Weixler) awkward adjustment to womanhood. While much has been written about gender roles in the horror genre, "Teeth" cleverly manages to have its cake and eat it, too: Dawn is treated as a haplessly naive girl by every male she encounters; the males are predatory, would-be rapists. In films like "I Spit On Your Grave" and "Ms. 45," the female victims recover to enact revenge in an extreme manner--"Teeth" playfully subverts Freud's notion of "penis envy" by transforming male genitalia into a literal kiss of death; Dawn's encounters (while tinged with a sometimes groan-inducing, "Clueless"-styled humor) eventually contribute to her growth and maturity as a woman, to the point where she finally becomes master of her domain. While not great, "Teeth" is a worthwhile little sleeper with some food for thought.
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