This post includes a brief plot summary, an analysis and an explanation about the ending of the film Teeth (2007). Beware of spoilers.
Imagine a world where a young woman discovers that her body possesses a shocking and unconventional defense mechanism. This is the intriguing premise of the 2007 horror comedy “Teeth”, directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein. Starring Jess Weixler as Dawn, a high school student.
The plot of “Teeth” is centered around Dawn, an abstinent teenage girl who goes through a path of self-discovery after her innocence is taken away.
Dawn is a diligent follower of her local abstinence group. However, one day, she finds herself fancying Tobey, a fellow celibate. They eventually decide to loosen up and spend more time together, which has disastrous consequences. Things heat up and Tobey starts making sexual advances towards Dawn, but she rejects him.
Had Tobey been more respectful of Dawn, things could’ve ended there. But the boy wasn’t willing to take no for an answer. From there on, Dawn is subjected to a series of unfortunate events, which include deceit and sexual assault. However, each perpetrator eventually gets what’s coming to them.
After inadvertently cutting Tobey’s penis off, Dawn seeks the help of a gynaecologist. Dr. Godfrey is a creep who takes advantage of Dawn and sticks his whole hand into Dawn’s vagina. But he does pay a hefty price for it. Dawn’s “vagina dentata” bit the doctor’s hand off!
Just when Dawn found some solace in Ryan, a fake “nice guy”, she found out that he was trash too. Ryan made a bet with his boys that he would be able to sleep with Dawn. As “payback”, she cut Ryan’s penis too.
Meanwhile, Dawn learns another shocking revelation: her stepbrother (Brad) heard her sick mother (Kim) crying to help but did nothing to help. Enraged, Dawn takes matters into her own hands. Since she knows that Brad has a weird obsession with her, Dawn seduces her stepbrother. Once he is inside of her, Dawn takes the opportunity to “clip” him off.
While Brad is screaming in agony with no chance of re-attaching the missing bit of his male member, Dawn takes her bike and rides away. However, midway, one of her bike’s tires flats out. Out of options, Dawn tries hitch-hiking. And an old man stops and picks her up.
The ending of “Teeth” shows Dawn’s waking up in the old man’s car, who is unwilling to let her go. After locking the car doors, the old man starts licking his lips, insinuating that he wants a sexual favour from the young girl. At first, Dawn is reluctant, but then she smiles.
Everything comes full circle at the end of “Teeth”—the opening scene is basically a prelude to the ending.
Right when the film starts, it’s not very clear why Brad has a bleeding finger. What seemed like an initially intriguing premise actually holds a very disturbing truth behind it. As the story unravelled, it became clear that Dawn’s stepbrother was trying to molest her. In the process, Dawn bit Brad with her “vagina dentata”.
Brad has always had this weird obsession for Dawn since they were kids. So, when his father and Kim got together, he resented them for making Dawn his step-sister. Basically, the parents killed Brad’s chances of ever pursuing Dawn. That explains why Brad dismissed Kim’s screams and unleashed his dog to attack his own father, he really hates them.
Dawn biting Brad’s finger definitely traumatized him about having vaginal intercourse. That’s why he avoids it with his girlfriend. Even during his first and last intimate moment with Dawn, Brad tried to have sex with Dawn his way, but she was able to convince him to do it her way.
The film reaches its climax when Dawn seduces her stepbrother in order to seek revenge for her mother.
Brad could’ve saved Kim’s life had he taken action when she cried for help. Instead, he chose to deliberately ignore her. When Dawn found out about Brad’s selfish actions, she was furious at him for neglecting her mother. Deep inside, Dawn always knew that Brad was an awful person in general. That’s why she snapped so quickly, when Brad brought up the “bleeding finger” incident.
Those who have watched “Teeth” must be wondering: why didn’t Dawn just simply kill Brad? As a woman, I can relate to Dawn. In this scenario, killing Brad seems way harder than seducing him and cutting his penis off.
Imagine Dawn getting into a physical fight with Brad. Who do you think would win? Since Brad always had this weird crush on his step-sister, and Dawn knew about it, she used it to her advantage. Dawn was almost certain that if she put the offer on the table, Brad would most likely accept it. And he did, which was her chance to finish him.
From a more sadistic perspective, seeing Brad suffering and slowly bleeding to death (presumably) is a way more satisfying visual for Dawn than just ending his life with one single strike. After exacting revenge on Brad, the rest seems trivial to Dawn. By the way, Brad’s dog ate the penis, meaning that even if Brad survives, he will never be “whole again”.
Dawn’s journey in “Teeth” culminates in an amazing transformation, where she sheds her “old self” to become a “woman”.
In the end, Dawn is no longer a scared little girl running away from every creep that is trying to sexually assault her. Dawn always had the right to say “no”, but her “vagina dentata” empowered her to take action against those who dare to disrespect her rights.
After a long series of unfortunate events, Dawn emerges as a strong young woman. Just take a look at the last scene, instead of running away from the nasty old man, she smiles. Why? She knows what is coming to him, her “vagina dentata” will let the perpetrators know that “no means no”.
“Teeth” is a film that explores serious themes, without taking itself too seriously.
There are some really disturbing scenes in “Teeth”, balanced by some really funny moments. The most disturbing scenes were definitely the ones with Brad and Tobey. One is a molester, while the other is a rapist.
To counteract the heavy scenes, there are some comedic moments featuring Dr. Godfrey and Ryan. Both men eventually get their well-deserved punishment for their bad deeds. Dr. Godfrey lost his fingers, after taking advantage of Dawn. Then there is Ryan, the seemingly nice boy who lost his penis because of a stupid bet.
Now, I don’t want to laugh at someone’s pain, but Ryan’s reaction to the trauma was hilarious. Last but not least, the old man licking his lips at Dawn was the cherry on top of the cake. He really has no clue about what’s going to happen to him…
Would it be an exaggeration to label the film “Teeth” as an underrated film? I think not. There is no universal consensus about this film. Some people love it, and some hate it. Nonetheless, it is precisely these divisive films that prove to be the most intriguing.
The worst reaction to a film is indifference. As a viewer, it’s always a disappointment when a film fails to resonate, but not having an opinion about it is way worse. It feels like a waste of time! Personally, I believe “Teeth” is an underrated gem.
If the film is that good, why does it get so many polarizing responses? A wild guess would be that male viewers didn’t like the film. “Teeth” depicts the majority of its male characters as sexual predators. Aside from Dawn’s stepfather, every other male figure in the film is some sort of “sicko”.
So, what message is the film attempting to convey? Is “Teeth” insinuating that every man harbours a sexual predator within? I don’t think that was the director’s intention. While “Teeth” can be interpreted as a metaphor for violence against women, it is primarily a coming-of-age tale.
Dawn, the film’s protagonist, undergoes a significant transformation to complete her character arc. Despite encountering numerous “monsters” on her journey, they all sort of make her stronger in a very twisted way. Towards the end, Dawn evolves from a helpless young girl scared of men to a self-assured woman capable of navigating difficult situations.