Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.


Review by Stuart Bland

Vagina Dentata. Yes, the cultural myth going back centuries, the one which makes all men squirm. The myth is said to represent the male fear of castration. It also symbolizes the woman's anxieties about penetration, and/or her desire to devour her mate. It would take quite an ambitious director to tackle such a taboo subject for his first film, and Mitchell Lichtenstein, son of the visionary artist, Roy Lichtenstein, is just the director.

In what may have turned out as simply an excuse to exploit the world's current obsession with torture porn since the release of the massively successful Saw series, it was a relief to get a tongue-in-cheek thriller taking a keen influence from 1950s “B” movies that is smart, funny, wildly imaginative and perfectly executed by an impressive cast.

We are introduced to the subject matter in hand in a very innocent manner, with that age-old story of children exploring each others body parts. While many have gotten the chance to glimpse what the opposite sex's genitalia looks like, not many are left scarred, literally, from the experience.  We are then transported forward in time to find Dawn (played with great innocence and enthusiasm by Jess Weixler), at the peak of puberty. This, again, is a time when most of us are keen to explore our own bodies (along with, in some cases, the bodies of others). However, Dawn has forbidden herself from such exploration. Chastising herself in The Promise Ring (think the Silver Ring Thing); she has decided to seek purity, forbidding all sexual advances until after marriage. She has always accepted the fact that she had something... unusual, about her body, and it seems she has decided to ignore it in the hope that she will be saved by a knight in shining armor.

However, these are teenage boys we are talking about here. Teenage boys are not knights in shining armour. They are horny, desperate primitives when it comes to the opposite sex. Even those who have attempted to hide such sexual urges by joining The Promise Ring are eventually seduced by the charms of the feminine body.  And that is when the problems begin, in all their graphic and gory nature. Anyone who displeases this young lady is dispatched of like a Black Widow would her mate. This is not for the faint-hearted. I, along with every man in the cinema, spent most of the movie with our legs crossed. Leaving a devastating trail of body parts, Dawn attempts to understand her body, before eventually learning to command it.

Lichtenstein has created an impressive satirical debut, exploring femininity in a witty and sometimes hilarious way. His use of metaphors throughout the movie lightens the mood (the wide shots of a pair of atomic power-plant silos protrude from the horizon like ... you know) between some of the most gruesome scenes I have ever seen. While, the film takes nods from teenage movie classics such as Carrie, this is not, however, a sterotypical movie which just exploits the idea of torture porn with a genital flytrap. In fact, it is a movie which studies puberty, femininity, and the depths men will go even when the answer is ‘No’. And then it deals with how the female of the species can bite back. Ouch. 

3.5/5 stars

Review by Paul Edwards

Horror-comedies are one my favorite genres, so when I heard that there was a new movie coming out that involved a girl having teeth in her nether regions, I was sure intrigued by the idea. In that respect, the movie did a fine job introducing us to this concept and created a character that not only has a special gift but allows us to actually care for her, even though she is, let’s face it, kind of creepy.
Jess Weixler is Dawn, the girl with the golden touch. Her petite, tender, vulnerable ways in the beginning of the film set the stage for what is to come. Through her memories and relationships, we see exactly how this “ailment” affects her family and her friends. This is important, because Dawn is not on trial here; it is the entire teenage male population.  Men might be physically stronger, but the weakest part of their anatomy is in between their legs. And I gotta tell you, being a guy, when I saw Dawn in action is was mind-numbingly painful. If there is anything that can knock a man from his high horse is to do “that” to him.

There are many heartfelt bits in the movie, especially the scenes of abuse, since they give us hope that Dawn will use her “powers” for good. Jess Weixler really makes Dawn come to life with her naiveté and her shyness in the beginning. There are some real nuances to her character, sine her “power” can’t be categorized as either good or bad; it just “is”, and as the movie goes along, it is how she deals with it that makes her grow on-screen. After her first “attack” we really begin to see just how strong this girl is. If she did not have her teeth then she would have some very tough growing pains in her life.

There are a few flaws in the movie, however. Its third act really loses its way as the Dawn we have come to know chooses a truly dark path and does some really crazy things. True, it further develops her character, but it really felt a bit rushed. Dawn’s step-brother felt a bit too much like a caricature, but he was a good foil for Dawn. With him, we can see exactly what she has to deal with in her life. He is the Agent Smith to her Neo. They play off each other well and really bring the story to a climax.

Obviously, this film has a very powerful feminist message, that women don’t have to take crap from any man, whether they possess a built-in defense mechanism or not.  “No” means no, plain and simple.  I strongly recommend this film; pick it up on DVD!

4 / 5 stars

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