Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mitchell Lichtenstein|
|Written by||Mitchell Lichtenstein|
|Music by||Robert Miller|
|Edited by||Joe Landauer|
|January 19, 2008|
Teeth is a 2007 black comedy horror film written and directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein. The movie stars Jess Weixler, Hale Appleman, and John Hensley, and was produced by Lichtenstein on a budget of US$2 million. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 19, 2007, and was distributed by Roadside Attractions for a limited release in the United States.
Despite being positively received by critics, the film had an international box office gross of $2,340,110, barely earning back its budget. At Sundance, Weixler received the Grand Jury Prize for Acting.
Dawn O’Keefe (Jess Weixler) is a teenage spokesperson for a Christian abstinence group called the Promise. She attends groups with her two friends, Alisha (Julia Garro) and Phil (Adam Wagner). One evening after giving a speech about the purity ring worn by members of the group, she is introduced to Tobey (Hale Appleman) and finds him attractive. The four begin going out as a group. Dawn has fantasies about marrying Tobey, although after acknowledging the attraction, they agree that they cannot spend time together. Soon after they give in and meet at a local swimming hole. After swimming together, they go into a cave to get warm and begin kissing. Dawn gets uncomfortable and tries to get them to go back. Tobey then attempts to rape Dawn, who panics and tries to push him off. Tobey becomes aggressive and shakes Dawn, resulting in her smacking her head on the ground. While she is dazed, Tobey takes the opportunity to begin raping her. Dawn fights back and inadvertently bites off his penis with her vagina. A horrified Dawn stumbles away and she flees the scene. After a Promise meeting, she meets her classmate Ryan (Ashley Springer) at a dance; they talk, and he drops her off at her home.
Dawn drops her purity ring off a cliff and goes back to the swimming hole. She screams in horror when she sees a freshwater crab crawling on Tobey's penis. She then researches "vagina dentata" and realizes she may have it. She visits a gynecologist, Dr. Godfrey (Josh Pais), in an attempt to find out what is happening to her. When he assaults her in the guise of an examination, reaching up inside her without a glove, she panics and her vagina bites off all four fingers on his right hand. While biking home, she encounters a police officer driving Tobey's car and sees several police vehicles pass. She decides to go back to visit the pool to investigate. When she arrives, she sees the police bringing up Tobey's body - he presumably died of shock in the water. Meanwhile, back at home, her ill mother Kim O'Keefe (Vivienne Benesch) collapses. Dawn's stepbrother Brad (John Hensley) and his girlfriend Melanie (Nicole Swahn) hear her collapse but ignore her, continuing to have sex while she lies on the floor. Dawn's mother is taken to the hospital.
Dawn goes to Ryan seeking help, hysterical about her encounter with the doctor and her mother. Ryan gives her a sedative and masturbates her with a vibrator. Though initially afraid she will hurt him, she finds that when she is relaxed and is consenting to the sexual activity taking place, her "teeth" do not engage. The following morning they have sex again, but mid-coitus Ryan’s friend calls. Ryan smugly boasts that he and the friend had bet on whether he could score with Dawn. In her anger, her vagina bites off his penis, and she leaves him to call his mother for help. Dawn learns her mother has died, leading her stepfather Bill (Lenny Von Dohlen) to attempt to throw Brad out, but Brad sets his dog on Bill, during which he confesses his love for Dawn. Dawn meets her stepfather and Melanie at the hospital and seeing her stepfather hurt and hearing from Melanie how Brad told her to ignore her mothers cries for help earlier, she becomes emboldened by her power and goes back home to seek revenge. Dawn puts on make-up and goes to seduce her stepbrother. In the midst of the act, Brad recalls that, while still kids, Dawn bit his finger, but it was not her mouth that bit him. As he realizes this, Dawn’s vagina bites off his penis. She releases it on the ground and Brad’s dog eats it, spitting out the glans and genital piercing. Dawn leaves him whimpering and maimed on his bed, bleeding to death.
Dawn cycles away from home, but her bike tire sustains a puncture, so she begins hitchhiking. She gets a lift from an old man (Doyle Carter), but falls asleep and rides for several hours, waking up after nightfall. When she tries to get out, he repeatedly locks the doors. He licks his lips as if to ask for a sexual favor to release her; Dawn hesitates, and then looks towards the camera—and the old man—with a seductive smile.
The film received mostly positive reviews from critics on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, which reported that 79% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 66 reviews—with the consensus "Smart, original, and horrifically funny, Teeth puts a fresh feminist spin on horror movie tropes." Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 57 out of 100, based on 22 reviews. Foundation artistic director at the Sundance Film Festival Mystelle Brabbée claimed it was "one of the most talked-about films at the Sundance Film Festival this year". Jess Weixler won the Special Jury Prize for Dramatic Performance (and tied with Tamara Podemski from the film Four Sheets to the Wind).
- "Teeth". The Numbers. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
- "Teeth – Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- "Teeth (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- Burnham, Gabriella (2007-11-04). "2007 Film Festival focus centers on female screenwriters". The Inquirer and Mirror. Retrieved 2007-11-17.
- "2007 Sundance Film Festival award winners". The Salt Lake Tribune. 2007-01-28. Retrieved 2007-01-28.