This flick is every man’s nightmare. It has to be. It’s just scary to think about. Sure, I’m sure there are undertones, or maybe even overtones, of male insecurity in what I just wrote but I challenge you, regardless of gender, to watch this movie and not get freaked out a little.
For the uninitiated, Teeth is the story of Dawn O’Keefe, a young Christian who is saving herself for marriage. During at attempted rape, Dawn discovers that she has Vagina Dentata aka teeth inside of her vagina. Pretty freaky, right? Well, it is. And delightfully so. The film chronicles Dawns spiral downward from a member of a purity ring group called The Promise to a strange sort of female vagina vigilante. I don’t mean that last bit in anyway to sound sexist. I’m attempting to state that Dawn literally uses her vagina to fight crime/rape/whathaveyou. It’s amazing.
The film was written and directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein and stars Jess Weixler as Dawn.
The film does a number of intriguing things but the one I’m most impressed by is it manages to not alienate the viewer by having an extremely conservative protagonist. The film opens with her lecturing a throng of starry-eyed children about the evils of pre-marital sex. Not many films can open that way and still have you like and relate to the protagonist. But through a constructed mix of empathy and humor the film really sets up Dawn as someone to root for.
On a side note, I have never nervously laughed so hard while staring at a plastic penis before. This movie will make you uncomfortable and excited at the same time. Hmm, that might have been a poor choice of words.
Needless to say, the film has a penchant towards the humorous and the horrific. It has a sick sense of humor that stays pretty close to its core objectives. Which I think is part of its strength. The film knows exactly what it is and it doesn’t stray too far away from that. Despite the seemingly unrelenting onslaught of male aggressors the film has a surprisingly feminist point of view. The film both entertains and educates. It’s a fun fantasy narrative as well as a road map of men’s fears and insecurities.
Overall, the film achieves the goals it sets out to accomplish. The thing that is most impressive about the narrative is the performance of Jess Weixler. Her ability to coax empathy out of an audience is impressive to say the least.