Verdict: A story about a girl with a unique mutation that either makes her the most bad ass woman on the planet, or uniquely terrifying to all men. Probably both.
DAWN: The toothed vagina appears in the mythology of many and diverse cultures all over the world. In these myths, the story is always the same. The hero must do battle with the woman. The toothed creature can break her power.
The little spot on the Internet that I have carved out for myself is primarily about entertainment or politics. Interestingly, the first place I heard about this movie is the political slice, from feminists who were dissecting it for its political implications. I, of course, was interested in seeing it for its genre leanings and that I had never seen a premise like it. After all, dark and funny stories about vagina dentata are hard to find. Not that I ever really looked before, but I may from now on.
The movie begins with a little boy in a pool with his stepsister. He’s a big jerk, and tries to put his finger where it doesn’t belong, and gets it bitten off. It’s a little unclear where he put it, but since I’ve seen a movie trailer, I knew where it was! Fast forward to the present day, and the girl, now grown, is a high school student named Dawn (Jess Weixler) She is a Good Girl, and really into abstinence. And her stepbrother is still a highly sexed douchebag who wants his sister a little too much.
At an anti-sex rally, she meets Tobey (Hale Appleman), and the two are attracted to each other despite themselves. They start hanging out, but the UST is too much and they sort of break up before the purity rings (and everything else) gets shucked off. However, in an unbelievable case of lying to themselves, they decide that going swimming in a cave is a great thing to do, without any problems. After some more UST, Dawn and Tobey end up in the cave, and get hot and heavy. Dawn, remembering her vows of purity (and most likely that bitten finger), tries to put the kibosh on premarital shenanigans. Tobey disagrees and proceeds to rape her. CRUNCH. She bites off his penis, and runs away as he is left bleeding in the pond.
After doing some research, Dawn goes to the gynecologist for the first time to see what’s up. In a scene right out of my worst medical nightmares, the doctor (Josh Pais) pretends to conduct a pelvic exam, but it’s really a Molesting Exam. I’m not even sure I’m allowed to name the act he performed on her on this website, because Oh My God. After what seems like forever on screen, Dawn freaks out and bites off his fingers. Thank you, Dawn. She runs out of the office while the doctor clutches his hand and screams “vagina dentata!” over and over. (How he knew what to call it baffles me. He should have been screaming “my hand!” because I’m sure he should be more concerned with that.)
After this, Dawn finds out that Tobey is dead. Also, her mother — who is sick — collapses and calls for help as Douchebag Stepbrother Brad (John Hensley) bangs his girlfriend. The girlfriend at least wanted to see what was wrong — but she wasn’t really in a position to do anything about it. Meanwhile, a thoroughly traumatized Dawn goes to this boy Ryan’s house to figure out her life. Ryan (Ashley Springer) slips her some drugs and helps her relax and sleep. Feeling better, Dawn agrees to some consensual sex and Ryan is able to stay intact. The next morning, Dawn agrees to some more nookie, but finds out that Ryan made a bet with his friends that he could sleep with Dawn. CRUNCH. Luckily, Ryan’s mom was home, so at least someone heard his screams, unlike Poor Dead Rapist Tobey.
Meanwhile, Dawn’s mother dies, her stepbrother gets douchier (setting his dog on his own father!) and Dawn finds out from the girlfriend that Brad could have helped, but didn’t. So, Dawn gets prettied up and goes to meet her stepbrother in his bedroom. Overcome with the thrill of incest (I know they’re not related, but it’s still incesty), Brad gets it on with Dawn, although he’s starting to remember where he put that bitten finger. But, he remembers too late. CRUNCH. Bye Little Brad. I hope the dog didn’t gag on it as she ate it up.
Dawn runs away on her bike, but it breaks, so she hitchhikes. She ends up with a creepy old man who locks the doors and puts the moves on her. But now he isn’t the hunter, she is.
The interesting thing for me about this movie is how much like Unbreakable it was. What I liked about that movie is that you learn about the hero and the villain before they become such. We see their backstory before they are done becoming what they are and can be with them from the beginning. At the end of Teeth, I was left with a similar feeling, but I was unsure if she would end up as a hero or an anti-hero. (It would be hard for me to say she was a villain, because everyone she attacked deserved it. If we can’t condemn Batman for vigilante justice, we can’t condemn Dawn for biting off a molester’s fingers.)
The only attack that I wasn’t too fond of was Ryan. Sure what he did was horrible. But, I’m not sure he deserved to get dismembered like that for being a jerk. The others were ghastly, but considering that in most horror movies kids get axe murdered all the time for smoking dope and making out, this was pretty tame. And these men had it coming. I suppose that was the other issue I had with the film: I know it was exaggerated for plot, but did every guy in this movie have to be a rapist, or a horrible human being? Couldn’t there have been one guy that wasn’t the embodiment of everything that is wrong with the world? I guess the stepfather was okay, but his role was so small that we never got to see much goodness. I’m not even asking for a good guy, just not for so much two-dimensionality.
Despite my slight criticisms, I enjoyed this movie thoroughly and highly recommend it. If you’re a fan of dark comedy horror, and particularly ones with original plots, this movie should not be missed.
BUY IT HERE | WATCH THE TRAILER
Directed by: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Starring: Jess Weixler and a bunch of douchebags.