Driving takes a dangerous turn for college student Benny Perez (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) when he gets himself caught up in a supernatural conflict threatening the safety of humanity in Netflix’s newest Halloween release, “Night Teeth.” Released to the streaming platform on October 20, the film follows Perez as he unknowingly gets caught up in a powerful vampire’s plot to take over LA’s dangerous underworld. While the film introduces creative angles and an artful execution of aesthetics, its uninteresting characters, unremarkable acting, and awkward pacing make it all the more forgettable. Spoilers ahead.
One of the film’s biggest flaws comes from its lackluster characters; protagonists and antagonists have shallow motives and generic characterizations, leaving the audience with no one to engage and interest them throughout the movie. The main character Benny is almost portrayed as too “quirky” and “relatable,” with mannerisms so exaggerated that he begins to feel less endearing and more embarrassing. Additionally, his motives throughout the film are unreasonable and hollow. Initially, Benny is understandably frightened for his safety and the well-being of the city when he first discovers the truth about his murderous passengers. However, it only takes 30 minutes with a girl that he has little to no chemistry with for him to assist the violent and highly unethical efforts of the very people that are putting his life in danger.
Moreover, any theme that the film wants to convey with Benny’s character development also goes out the window. Though the beginning of the movie frames him as a socially awkward optimist who just wants to make a living out of his musical passion and financially support his grandma, the end of the movie neglects these defining characteristics as soon as he becomes wealthy and powerful. It only vaguely brings up how he uses his newly gained money to support his family and forgets to even address his dream of pursuing a musical career. As a result, the movie’s plot promotes all the wrong themes regarding how to gain monetary success in life. Rather than emphasizing the importance of hard work and staying true to your ideals—which, though cliche, does hold true—it implies that the path to wealth is one of participating in illegal activities and becoming a socially acceptable party-goer. Probably not the best message to sell to impressionable teens, Netflix.
Not even the antagonists in “Night Teeth” can provide any good entertainment. Both Zoe Moreau (Sydney Sweeney) and Victor (Alfie Allen), the power-hungry couple desperate to assert their superiority over the human race, lack substance. Though Victor makes it quite clear that he intends to fit right into the superiority-complex villain stereotype, Zoe’s motives go entirely unaddressed throughout the course of the movie. The movie tries to advocate an underlying theme of ‘girl power’ by framing female characters as powerful and assertive, yet Zoe isn’t even given her own compelling reason for participating in the mass slaughter fest other than following the lead of her boyfriend—a move that was not very girlboss on their part.
However, “Night Teeth” still managed to somewhat redeem itself through its artistic set design and camerawork. Contrasting the city’s bright colors with the dark night sky, the film’s setting masterfully used and captured multi-colored lights within each shot, creating a rendered and two-dimensional quality in scenes throughout the movie. Additionally, the use of street art, vibrant neon signs, and other stylistic props demonstrated a good understanding of appropriate aesthetics for the movie and clearly embodied the atmosphere of the city it took place in. The cinematography was also clear and innovative. One particular shot of Victor taking a bullet to the head features a unique perspective where the camera looks through the bullet wound at the surprised assailant’s face. Though slightly gory, the scene works to establish a sense of disgust within the viewer and demonstrates the ingenuity and creativity behind the movie’s camerawork.
Despite its uniquely stylized aesthetics, color palettes, and filmography, Netflix’s “Night Teeth”gets a 2/5 stars for an inconsistent and poorly-developed main character and insipid adversaries.