Writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein’s feature debut takes high-concept to its zenith with Teeth, a story about the myth of vagina dentata manifest in a teenage girl named Dawn. With an opening bird’s-eye view onto a family home scored to Danny Elfman-esque music, the film quickly establishes the atmosphere of a grim fairy tale: A primal I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours encounter between a young Dawn and soon-to-be stepbrother Brad (John Hensley) leaves the boy sans fingertip. This memory, repressed by both, hangs heavy over the present day, which finds our pretty, blond heroine overzealously active in a chastity group, and multiply pierced Brad interested only in anal sex. But beneath these outre, campy trappings, Lichtenstein otherwise imagines a fairly standard coming-of-age trajectory, as Teeth intriguingly, if awkwardly, morphs into an exploration of burgeoning, unique female sexuality and its empowering possibilities.
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