Deep Bites: Our Review of ‘Night Teeth’

Posted in Netflix, What's Streaming? by - October 16, 2021
Deep Bites: Our Review of ‘Night Teeth’

Things happen when characters cross boundaries. That’s basically the thesis statement behind Adam Randall’s Night Teeth, which is about an Afro-Hispanic economics student, Benny (Jorge Lendenborg Jr.), who one day begs to sub in for his brother Jay (Raul Castillo), the latter working as a freelancer in a limo depot. It just so happens that his clients for the night are two young women, Blaire (Debby Ryan) and Zoe (Lucy Fry). He takes them on a route with pit stops in mansions and hotels. He’s only supposed to wait in the limo. But a routine cop check makes him escape further into the hotel, where he finds out that his clients are vampires.

What’s more is that Blaire and Zoe hired Benny specifically because they thought he’s Jay, who belongs to one of a few vampire hunting gangs in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. If the vampires kill Jay, they rule the whole city. The vampires bite and the hunters do some stabbing. However, horror movies like this have other interesting encounters. In Brent Dillon’s script, character are together and interestingly, inflict the least amount of conventional violence. Blaire and Zoe, ask each other how they should deal with Benny. And the camera doesn’t even need to be close to these three characters for them to express who has more power than whom.

Think of this as Driving Miss Daisy but with vampires, actual emotional resonance, and more complex power dynamics. Benny’s goal is to not die under then hands or teeth of these vampires. So it’s the question of how he’s going to step up so that he can survive the night. But of course, the complexity comes with whether or not one of them sympathizes with him. All of this takes place in a colorful night. It’s been a while since a horror film had bisexual lighting. Adding depth to the drama between the vampires and hunters are its supporting cast, or at least it does its best in doing so.

NIGHT TEETH
Debby Ryan as Blaire, Lucy Fry as Zoe and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Benny.
Netflix © 2021

The lay people who expressed excitement for this movie did so because it lists Megan Fox and Sydney Sweeney as supporting cast members. Unfortunately, they only have one scene, and Fox does a better job in it than Sweeney does. And another entry on the unfortunate column here – the movie’s only queer representation is the dynamic between Blaire and Zoe. By the way, there might be a target on Fry and Ryan’s backs because some fans might think that Fox and Sweeney deserve those roles. But the casting makes more sense this way. Others in the cast include Bryan Batt and Alexander Ludwig who do well in their respective scenes.

There’s more than one undead world in Night Teeth. One world has Benny reluctantly follows Blaire and Zoe to their targets before they get to Jay. The movie’s B-plot, then involves Jay trying to get to Blaire and Zoe’s boss Victor (Alfie Allen). It’s strange seeing Allen and Castillo, two young men sitting in the movie’s metaphorical adults table. And even if they bring gravitas to this genre film, it still feels normal that they’re the b-plot. The movie could have made some adjustments, though, since it doesn’t feel like it’s pushing hard enough on its social issues. The movie also puts Benny, Jay, and the other characters of colour in compromising positions that feel problematic. But this movie sticks its landing even with those issues. It shows that the lines between vampires and hunters, and their real life equivalents, are blurrier than they seem.

Other than yours truly, Brooklynites can take a bite from Night Teeth because of a local festival there. The film is available on Netflix on October 20, 2021.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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