Thursday, June 26, 2008

TEETH - fascinating, if mis-marketed

So everybody told me TEETH was a wicked satire of those dogmatic American evangelical Christian teens who make a cult out of biological ignorance and chastity. And I suppose the movie does start off as a comedy, but instead of a knowing, witty satire, it was more dead-pan and goofy. We meet a pretty teenage girl called Dawn and she's lecturing kids to keep it in their pants, right up to the point where she meets a sensitive Christian boy called Tobey. We get some quietly funny, goofy scenes in which they try and play down the obvious sexual tension, and it all ends with them making out. At which point, Dawn's mutated body puts up a rapier-like defense as her vagina dentata do for Tobey's manhood, and indeed, his sorry little life.

Now, I expected this scene to be played for broad laughs, and it's true that there is a lame attempt at gross-out comedy. But my overwhelming emotion for most of TEETH was pity. I think this is because Jess Weixler, who plays Dawn, is such a good actress and plays it so straight, that I actually began to sympathise with her. After all, she's a genuinely nice kid, who is learning that she's a mutant, and having to cope with a mother who's terminally ill and a psycho-sexually fucked up brother at the same time. In the scene where she finally enjoys sexual pleasure I was seriously happy for her!

So, while I did laugh out loud a lot during TEETH, I actually found it far more emotionally rewarding than, say, SEVERANCE. But I didn't quite get a handle on what writer-director Mithell Liechtenstein was trying to say. He starts by mocking the Christian teens for their distorted picture of sexual relations but in the end doesn't he present something equally warped, and alarmingly close to the fundamentalist view that teenage girls need to be protected from the predatory sexual instincts of teenage boys?

TEETH played Sundance, Berlin and Frightfest 2007. It was released earlier in 2008 in the US, Singapore, France and Hong Kong and is currently on release in the UK.

No comments:

Post a Comment