Vampire movies are dime a dozen. The genre of movies has been explored, tweaked, subverted and revolutionized time and time again. And some of them are the best in their genre. So when Netflixs Night Teeth decides to put a Michael Manns Collateral-type spin on things, curiosity piqued. And despite some interesting elements and great performances by its lead cast, the movie doesnt really add anything new to the genre. So check out my somewhat spoilery Night Teeth review.
Image via Netflix.
Netflixs Night Teeth begins with some heavy narrative exposition. We are introduced to this world, its people and the dark secrets that dwell within. The world is full of vampires and has always been. But a truce between humans and vampires led to their eventual co-existence. With certain rules in place; no humans should know they exist, no biting humans against their will and no entering Boyle Heights. Its not clear why that last one though. Something about the truce originating from people in that part of the city. In either case, if these rules are met, everyone leaves everyone alone. But obviously, if the truce isnt broken immediately, wed have no movie. So the opening scene sees vampires enter Boyle Heights and kidnap an innocent.
Were introduced to Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), a young boy with ambitions of making it big in life. After agreeing to substitute for his brothers chauffeur service Benny has the night of his life. Picking up two passengers who turn out to be vampires, Benny has to fight to make it through the night. Add to it that the fact the vampires plans directly affect the fate of vampire/human relations going forward. Oh, Night Teeth goes out of their way not to actually say vampires at all during its proceedings. Which is definitely a choice.
Image via Netflix.
On the whole, the world that Night Teeth creates is a very interesting one. Weve seen this kind of vampires co-existing with humans-type of story before. True Blood did it to perfection, actually. But Night Teeth, through that opening narration, talks about how Vampires are just a dirty underworld secret in society. Which makes sense. But the story doesnt really bother analyzing or going any deeper than that. This is what creates some issues later on as the story ends up leaning hard on these elements later on in the movie.
While this Night Teeth review isnt negative, I wish there were some aspects of the movie that was as better developed as its world. For example, the movie starts strong by establishing the kind of man that Benny really is. The opening montage following Benny, his hustle to save money, work hard, make his music, and do something better with his life is great. Lendeborg Jrs performance is super charming and you totally invest in him and what his story is going to be. However, it goes to waste in the latter half of the movie.
Image via Netflix.
Benny is pretty great. His introduction and swagger really set up a charming performance. But by the second act, Benny is just a muttering, eyebrow-raising guy whos well out of his depth. He gets a cool arc of finding the confidence within him, but it didnt feel like he wasnt confident, to begin with, so why? Things definitely get better with the introduction of Blaire (Debbie Ryan) as one of the passengers Benny picks up, who is a vampire, unknown to him initially. Ryan brings Blaire to life and makes her stand out in a movie that feels forgettable. However, their attraction and romance feel a little forced, and like a foregone conclusion.
On the other end of the spectrum, weve got the crazy wild card vampiress, Zoe (Lucy Fry). Zoe is the crazy one of the two vampires Benny meets. Also being the partner of Victor (Alfie Allen) who is the vampire striking out on his own in an attempted coup, the same night that Benny fills in for his brother. Talk about bad luck. Its these three major performances that make up the bulk of the movie and add substance to a story that is otherwise kind of meh.
The rest of the movie plays out as a rampage through the night as Blaire and Zoe go around taking out all the heads of the Vampire underworld. Working on behalf of Victor, its all a part of his attempt to be the sole Vampire head. But the execution of this plan kind of undermines the dangerous Vampire society that they built up. Early on, were introduced to Victors bosses, Emma (Sidney Sweeney) and Grace (Megan Fox). They seem to be the head honchos of the whole operation but then are killed by Victor easily. And I mean, very easily. Oh and that too, completely off-screen. So we dont even get to see Fox flex some of her known physical action chops, which is disappointing. And this opens up a larger issue with this story.
Image via Netflix.
At the end of the day, (or night) Night Teeth never feels like the grand epic that it makes itself out to be. The majority of the overthrowing the empire style takeover happens mostly off-screen as Blaire and Zoe enter a place, and then come out all ruffled and bloody. Even the one full-on action sequence we get with Zoe, Benny and Blaire, happens in slo-mo, out of focus in the background, from the perspective of a stoned Benny. So, again, kind of off-screen. Another elaborate fight sequence between the two and another head honcho played by Alexander Ludwig (Heels) is something we see from outside of a window, and then never again.
And lastly, a bigger street fight between the Vampires and the ones who hunt them happens as the three drive away. However, all the camera work focuses from inside the car, again preventing us properly seeing anything. Its definitely intentional and I get that the point was for the audience to be Benny. But in a movie that brings up so many cool ideas, an interesting storyline and great performances, the action wouldve been the kicker that made it all awesome. We dont even get any exposition about what the special dagger, or streams of light from crossbows that can kill vampires even are. So theres that.
Image via Netflix.
Despite my seemingly negative review of Night Teeth, its stillis a short enough movie at 1hour and 48 minutes, that its a nice casual watch. The performances keep things moving and the world-building is engaging enough to know more. Its definitely not the next big thing in the vampire genre that it might want to be, but its still fun enough to take a look at. Especially with Halloween just around the corner.
Is Night Teeth going to make to it your list of Halloween binges? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured image via Netflix.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wifes eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.
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Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero