Saturday, January 17, 2009

Teeth: Incisive -- or just a grind? har!

Teeth (2007) is an indie "comedy/horror" that I watched by myself because it's safe to say Mr. S. would've hated it, and very safe to say it is NOT OK for kids to see, or even to glimpse in passing. Although I can't say I enjoyed every moment of the film, I think it was pretty good, thematically.

Briefly: Dawn (Jess Weixler) is a pretty teenager and purity-ring-wearing spokesperson for the local chastity club. Her growing sexual feelings are increasingly at odds with what she claims to believe. Before she can make sense of this, she is raped, and it becomes clear that she is living one of humankind's most ancient horrorific myths: vagina dentata. Her vagina has teeth! Sharp ones. There is nothing ambiguous about the consequences of violating Dawn.

A lot plays into Dawn's emerging womanhood. Home in the shadow of a nuke plant. Sympathetic, ailing mother. Weak stepfather. Truly evil stepbrother with a particular sexual quirk. Nice boys who really aren't. Grown men who can't be trusted.

Everyone, um, affected by Dawn's intimate incisors has it (ahem) coming. Any woman who's ever been taken advantage of, especially as a teenager, could say that frankly, that's a satisfying change of pace. But purely as a moviegoer, not so much. Once you know the drill, well, that's what there is, and you sit through more of it while you wait to see how things might resolve. So that's the "horror" part. The "comedy" is because it's so ridiculous (chastity club! toothed vagina!) that it had to be at least partly campy. But it didn't make me laugh.

Dawn's awakening is an interesting theme. Now that it's dawned on Dawn what she's made of, how will she manage it? Will she be afraid? Ashamed? Empowered? Is she a monster, or kind of a super-heroine?

Lots to chew on.


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