In Teeth, a flaxen-haired high school student named Dawn (Jess Weixler), rosy and pure as her name, overcomes girlish fears to master the power of her adult female sexuality. Don’t all McLovin teens everywhere? Yes, but, small difference: Dawn’s body is a more mysterious temple than most, since she discovers that her genitals come equipped with…choppers. Indeed, in response to unwanted attention on the part of some extremely unfortunate young men does the heroine in this twisted feminist splatter-comedy learn that she is in possession of a mythic vagina dentate, scourge of intrepid penises everywhere. What’s a resourceful modern teen to do except, oh, you know, make it work?

Writer-director Mitchell Lichtenstein is onto something really fresh in his feature debut, flipping a graphic warning for men into an empowering fable for women. He tacks on some sci-fi-grade commentary about Darwinian genetic adaptation. And he tosses in just enough goofy-grotesque, chomp-chomp gore to keep midnight-madness audiences entertained, a tonal balancing act carried out with star-making poise (in the tradition of peachy beauties with comic capabilities) by Weixler in her first big feature role. Meanwhile, for those who think in increments of The Simpsons, the filmmaker includes two nuclear reactors in Dawn’s suburban skyline — although, honestly, Springfield’s multi-eyed fish have nothing on Dawn’s multi-fanged Down There. B+

  • Movie
  • 89 minutes