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"Night Teeth" takes advantage of the easiest part about vampire storytelling—that much of the rules about the bloodsuckers are already known by the audience. Boom, there's your character development, your stakes, your fear of daylight. But instead of trying to add something significant to their lore, vampires are treated like one of many cliches in this underwhelming horror-action-comedy that has little charisma of its own.
The movie’s most exciting component, even with its abundance of splattered blood, neon lights, and goofy dialogue like "I bet you give good blood," is a human character played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr.. Before he’s caught up driving around vampires, he’s a skateboarding college student who falls asleep in class, has a crush on someone whose boyfriend laughs at him, and makes music while living with his grandma. Kinda generic, Marty McFly-like stuff, but Lendeborg Jr. has the kind of neurotic comedic presence, and the soulful eyes when he’s in danger, that show why that trope is a reliable cliche. So when he gets to do some moonlighting as a chauffeur for his brother’s driving service, he’s a formidable surrogate into a gory Los Angeles underworld that involves the work of his new clients.
Blaire (Debby Ryan) and Zoe (Lucy Fry) are out to cause some bloody chaos, all with a big grin. Blaire, sweet by vamp standards, has been a bloodsucker for only a few decades, but Zoe has been this way for centuries, and it adds to her vicious, sadistic presence. Anywho, they initially tell their driver Benny that they’re hitting different parties at night, and need to be home before daylight. But it soon becomes apparent to him that they’re classic vampires, sucking blood and killing people as they go, all in a mob-like move to take over non-vamp territory (more on that later) and uphold the leader of their “gang,” Victor (Alfie Allen). Benny is initially trapped into this scenario, but eventually chooses to go along with it when his brother Jay (Raúl Castillo), who happens to lead one of the five gangs while also being a chauffeur, is put in danger.
“Night Teeth” gets some flair with its showy style, like shots that slowly flip the camera upside down, and a palette of neon blues, greens, and pinks that clutter the screen but turn nearly every location into some kind of nightclub. Director Adam Randall and his team have some discernible fun with the whole indulgent nature of this horny, goofy concept, and there are a few inspired touches, like chew-‘em-up sequences with Blaire and Zoe beating up their targets in the background of a brief action scene, while our surrogate Benny stands in fear in the forefront.
But the world-building here sucks, and it becomes a major part of how this script by Brent Dillon foolishly wants to be about more than just the craziest night of Benny's life. There’s a whole bunch of wordy business about five vaguely defined gangs trying to protect their vaguely defined territories, some of them including vampires and some of them including hunters, while Blaire and Zoe make a move on these different areas, breaking rules that had created peace, and more. Instead of enhancing the action, like how “Underworld” did with lycans and vampires war throughout its franchise run, this world-building (much of it through characters just explaining it; dreadful) slows everything to a halt. One mid-film monologue in particular, saddled onto Debby Ryan, has her speaking in the script’s primary form of shorthand. Throwing in a five-gang war should add to the stakes, but instead it adds to reasons to watch something else.
There's an overriding desire throughout "Night Teeth" for it to be an L.A. story, especially in how its context involves snide comments about how the bloodsuckers run Hollywood. But the movie becomes obnoxiously superficial itself, perhaps most obviously when it includes Megan Fox and Sydney Sweeney, its two biggest stars, for maybe five minutes of screen-time. Instead of adding to the film’s cred, their flat line-delivery about vampire business and humorless presence, complemented with flashy robes, shows how much “Night Teeth” can lose what little charm it has—especially when the backstory takes up so much space. It’s an especially gaudy moment from a movie that desperately wants to be as edgy as fangs tearing into a throat, but simply isn’t.
Now playing on Netflix.
Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Benny
Debby Ryan as Blaire
Lucy Fry as Zoe
Raúl Castillo as Jay Perez
Alfie Allen as Victor
Sydney Sweeney as Eva
Megan Fox as Grace
Alexander Ludwig as Rocko