Netflix finally released its brand-new vampire flick “Night Teeth,” after high anticipation from its trailer that left critics and eager fans thirsty for more on Oct. 20.
Bringing a new and modern take on the vampire genre to the table, “Night Teeth” follows college student Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), who takes over his brother’s chauffeur night shift and picks up two mysterious women for a night of party-hopping. However, it quickly descends into chaos when he realizes that they are vampires. Benny attempts to get through the night, fearing for his life, with the audience being strapped in for the wild ride.
Vampires Blaire (Debby Ryan) and Zoe (Lucy Fry) may have an insatiable thirst for blood, but they also have their eyes set on liberation from an old truce that was set between humans and vampires. In the opening scene, the audience learns that vampires and humans were in constant battle with each other as they struggled to exist habitually, especially at Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. In order to maintain peace between both species, the humans promised never to disclose the vampires’ existence to anyone else. Meanwhile, the vampires swore to never let any other humans know of them, to never feed on the unwilling and to never ever enter Boyle Heights without permission. Over the years, humans had practically erased vampires out of their consciousness while the vampires grew more powerful and somehow richer — reminiscent of the Cullen vampire family from the “Twilight” series. Benny’s older half-brother Jay (Raúl Castillo) manages the truce in the Hispanic neighborhood of Boyle Heights as the leader and representative for the humans.
At first glance, the film’s vibrant neon aesthetics that highlight the nightlife in L.A. appear to be promising. As Blaire lures in the audience with her beguiling narration during the opening scene, comic-like drawings of the characters are creatively displayed on the shiny surfaces of a car as it drives past the big bright billboards that embody the essence of downtown L.A. Throughout the flick, director Adam Randall manages to play around with inventive camera angles that reflect the absurdity and twisted nature of the story, which essentially contributes to writer Brett Dillion’s portrayal of this film as a graphic novel-esque universe.
Accompanied by an electrifying soundtrack with voices from the likes of Saweetie and Audrey Nuna, “Night Teeth” also features a blood-curdling cinematic score composed by Drum & Lace and Ian Hultquist, who are known for their famous works in “Good Girls” and Amazon’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer.” The fusion of electronic and eerie sounds add to the thrills and enigma that come with the idea of vampires and develops the film’s soundscape in an authentic manner. Although the film’s audio and visuals are captivating, its largely predictable plot and shallow world-building ultimately present the film as any other generic vampire movie.
In the beginning of the film, Blaire narrates that humans have misrepresented vampires in every novel and movie created throughout the years. Ironically, the film fails to flesh out new characteristics to its own version of vampires, adversely portraying its monsters as forgettable characters that bring nothing new to the table. The typical cliches of super strength, sharp fangs and fear of sunlight still find themselves rooted within the soil of a supposedly new era of vampire films. As a result, “Night Teeth” has yet to constitute what makes their vampires distinct and unique from other iconic vampires within the genre. Moreover, the film’s age rating of TV-14 may have hindered “Night Teeth” from reaching its full potential. Given vampires’ well-known frightening and sly nature, it would have been fitting to depict violent and gory scenes. Sadly, the film cuts to a different scene each time before a violent sequence commences, which takes away the excitement and anticipation that the audience signed up for.
Despite nailing the film’s aesthetics, the only bites that “Night Teeth” imprint are the plot holes that eat out of its cheesy storyline. Critics have called “Night Teeth” the lovechild between “Blade” and “Collateral,” referencing the other movies’ intriguing and refreshing take on vampires and love for car chases. Unfortunately, “Night Teeth” falls short in meeting these expectations because it lacks a solid backstory that could have aided in the audience’s understanding of why Blair and Zoe chose to go rogue or how Jay became the leader for humans.
At every pit stop during their drive, Blair and Zoe are seen stealing bags of cash covered in blood but there is no explanation as to why they need the money when they are already rich. Later, we learn that blood clubs where humans discreetly allow vampires to drink their blood exist, though it is unclear what humans gain from the trade. Before we are even introduced to the world of vampires, we are thrown into the part where two vampires plan to tear down the system. Without acknowledging the main motives of each character, it disengages the audience from the characters and the universe, which in turn limits its cinematic immersion.
Perhaps what saved the film from being a total bloodbath was the chemistry shared between the characters. It was evident from the start that Blair and Benny had an instant connection, which developed gradually and beautifully throughout the length of the film. Consequently, the tight-knitted friendship between Blair and Zoe was not only conspicuous but also admirable with their brazen and loose-canon-like behavior that complemented each other well. Although, it would have been more meaningful if Randall made the directorial choice of putting in flashbacks about their past lives and how they met. While the film is supported by a stellar cast, it was disappointing that Megan Fox and Sydney Sweeney only had five minutes of screen time, even though many viewers admitted to have watched the film specifically for them.
“Night Teeth” is not a horrible film. It is a film that could have taken the opportunity to delve deeper into its characters and world-building. The film would have been better fitted as a television series to give Randall and Dillion a wider scope in introducing and experimenting with their eccentric story.
Annabella Johan is an Entertainment Intern for the fall 2021 quarter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.