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Movie Review: ‘Night Teeth’ is a vampire tale without any real bite

Movie Review: ‘Night Teeth’ is a vampire tale without any real bite

Director: Adam Randall
Writer: Brent Dillon
Stars: Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Debby Ryan, Lucy Fry, Raúl Castillo, Alfie Allen, Marlene Forte, Alexander Ludwig, Sydney Sweeney, Megan Fox

Synopsis: A college student moonlighting as a chauffeur picks up two mysterious women for a night of party-hopping across LA. But when he uncovers their bloodthirsty intentions – and their dangerous, shadowy underworld – he must fight to stay alive.

There are a lot of vampire movies, which means the odds of seeing something wholly new and unique is slim. Night Teeth doesn’t create something new with these creatures of the night, but is a sometimes enjoyable mashup of genres. The film is a supernatural gangster picture with a small amount of coming of age mixed in. It’s a little like Collateral, but with vampires.

Where the film fails to keep its intrigue is in its lore. The voiceover at the beginning sets up the rules of the Los Angeles vampire/human truce, but after that the ideas, groups and concepts can get hazy. Though, there’s little to distract from the haziness. There aren’t cool fight scenes or chases. Most of the fight scenes take place in the background of shots or not on screen at all. Some of this could be ascribed to budget or because the filmmakers were trying to put their own spin on it, but it also makes for a bit of a snooze. Monster films are only as good as their kills and this film avoids a lot of the messiness.

It would be interesting if the avoidance of messiness were in service of a dynamite character building subplot, but that’s not what happens. The romantic angle falls very flat. Jorge Lendeborg Jr. does his very best as Benny. He adapts that boyish, Hugh Grant stutter with accompanying foot in mouth disease, but when it’s played against Debby Ryan’s Blaire, it feels as if Benny’s trying to impress a brick wall. Brent Dillon certainly wrote it as if Benny is falling for the manic pixie dream girl, but what Ryan brings to the role is a different interpretation that completely clashes with any attempts at a charming romance. It would be laughable if the idea of that romance made you feel anything.

This isn’t to say Night Teeth is completely without merit, though. There are a handful of scenes created by director Adam Randall and cinematographer Eben Bolter that are visually engaging. They do employ a lot of neon saturated colors as is typical of today’s action/thrillers and they do often keep the camera stagnant and let the action happen within the frame. One of the funniest scenes is as Victor, played blandly by Alfie Allen, and Zoe, played by Lucy Fry who really sinks her teeth into the role, are on a phone call check in. During Victor’s half of the call, the camera is in a wide shot so we see Victor’s trunk open and a man in pain flop out. We watch the man crawl away from the car. Casually, and still conversing, Victor walks over to the crawling man as the camera pans with him and he drags the man back to the car like he was nothing. It’s a fun scene that reminds us how powerful vampires are supposed to be.

Night Teeth fails the show don’t tell test on a lot of occasions. If the filmmakers could have gotten out of their own heads about creating something new and just created something cool, they could have had something. Night Teeth could have used more snarky Megan Fox. It could have used a couple sentences to explain the special knives. It could have used an explanation as to why Jay, Benny’s half brother, knows about vampires, keeps the truce with vampires, has been passed down all knowledge of vampires, but Benny has no idea about any of it. It could have used a moment, any moment to explain how Victor came to be the most powerful vampire, able to take down two others in one go. It could have even used a few more moments with the Night Legion who could have actually added to the lore and world building. It could have actually built a solid foundation for its world first instead of letting it fade in and out uninterestingly. Night Teeth could have been a pretty decent vampire/gangster mashup, but the convoluted nature of the world and the lackluster love plot sink it faster than a vamp can sink its teeth into a willing neck.

Grade: D

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