ATTACK OF THE KILLER VAGINA!!! Ok, let’s give it more credit than that. This is a film that deserves praise beyond the hilarity of its premise. Yes, the main character, Dawn (Jess Weixler) has a toothed vagina that is capable of severing any unwelcome bodily extremity… but the film also offers some rather profound commentary on a variety of subject matters including teen abstinence, sexual abuse, the mythology of “Vagina Dentata,” and of course, female empowerment. What makes this film so likable is that it addresses all of these serious issues with an unusual combo of humor and morbidity, leaving the audience laughing, cringing, and really thinking about these often “swept under the rug” (PUN INTENDED) subjects that are rarely given the canvas of an entire film to explore.
The story of the movie follows the devoutly abstinent high school student, Dawn O’Keefe (cleverly alluding to the artist Georgia O’Keeffe’s famously vagina-esque flower paintings) as she embarks on a crusade to encourage teens to “save their precious gifts.” Her identity is found in making speeches to a young religion-based group and being the model of virtue for her abstinent comrades. All of this changes when she meets Tobey (her dreeeeaaamboat high school boy fantasy), and she unwillingly begins to have her first really feelings of sexual curiosity. The moment of Tobey and Dawn’s first encounter is one of the blissfully obvious moments that the film takes to poke fun at the usual “love at first sight” moment in many teen romance movies.
Dawn’s step-brother brother Brad (who was the first to be assaulted by Dawn’s vagina when they were children as he was attempting to sexually abuse her in their blow-up swimming pool) plays the villain of the film–the metalhead chauvinist with a sleazy girlfriend, no ambition, and an abused killer dog with an…ahem…appetite for unusual treats.*
Once the film establishes what Dawn’s toothed vagina is truly capable of, it then follows her journey through stages of denial about her somewhat inconceivable genetic mutation, and eventual acceptance, allowing her to gain control over it to her own advantage–and her unfortunate partners’ disadvantage. Another of the film’s gem-moments occurs when one of her victims lays in surgery, having his hoo-hoo reattached and the doctor jokingly adds “I’d love to hear the story of how this happened,” and upon looking at what is left to reattach, follows up with “hmm…it hardly seems worth it.” The film is full of great verbal and visual one-liners.
The film also puts in its two cents in terms of the educational system’s wariness about sexual education. The diagram of the vagina is censored in the school textbook while the male genitalia is displayed in its full uncensored magnificence. The absurdity of this double standard is carried nicely throughout the film as well. The only vagina we see in the movie is for a second when Dawn peels away the censorship sticker in her textbook…but the film is loaded with penises and obviously phallic symbols.
There are so many things that could be discussed about this film–things not necessarily having to do with sex, vaginas, or penises. For one, mutation and environmental toxins are a blatant motif hinted at throughout the film with the visual of two huge pluming power plant smoke stacks towering ominously over Dawn’s house.) There’s also a rather heartrending subplot throughout the film relating to Dawn’s terminally ill mother who meets an untimely end due to her step-brother’s negligence. There is also a genuine and beautifully acted scene when Dawn reaches a critical point in which she believes she has foresaken her own moral code of conduct and is unable to truthfully preach to her abstinence choir.
“Teeth” is unlike any other film I’ve seen before. It’s hilarious, gross (though not excessively gory), risque and unexpectedly complex. So see it already!