Ever heard the myth of the vagina dentata? Well, now’s the time to cross your legs, because here’s a girl who’s got fangs in a place where ne’er a fang should be. Teeth follows the day-to-day existence of Dawn, a teenager who fights her adolescent urges because she believes in saving herself for marriage. When she becomes the victim of a sexual attack, Dawn discovers there’s something far more troubling going on down below than your run-of-the-mill puberty: yes, there’s a monster inside her, and it’s not afraid to hand out some rough justice.
Unfortunately for Dawn, this is only the beginning; almost every man she meets has sinister intentions. It’s gory, as you can imagine, and director Mitchell Lichtenstein doesn’t hold back: there are disembodied penises and screaming, bleeding bad guys aplenty. After the screening I attended, several of the male critics emerged looking green. Luckily, the men who get the chop are always deserving victims, and the vagina dentata itself is just a misunderstood defender of Dawn’s rights. Lichtenstein mocks the American education system’s squeamishness when it comes to the facts of life, and depicts Dawn’s sexuality as powerful and positive. But it’s unfortunate that sex itself gets such a raw deal. Dawn meets far more than her fair share of bastards, and although this is depicted to comic effect (believe it or not), sexual encounters quickly start to seem much scarier than a vagina with teeth.
Jess Weixler is brilliant as Dawn, and her transformation from pro-chastity girl-next-door to vengeful vixen is fabulously satisfying. Lichtenstein has managed something that is satirical, disturbing, and very, very funny. It’s a pitch-black scary-tale, and it’s got more bite than any film I’ve seen this year.