Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Teen Twisters: EIFF Reviews by Emma J Lennox

Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Screenwriter: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Runtime: 88mins

The weird are definitely turning pro at the Edinburgh Festival this year with a number of cool teenage targeted cult films bringing a new twist to a tired genre. First is B movie schlock horror faire in Mitchell Lichtenstein’s Teeth. Dawn (Jess Wexler) believes she has found true love when she meets Tobey (Hale Appleman) at the high school abstinence club, but she’s afraid she won’t be able to resist her carnal desires. Sexual tension reaches souring levels as the giddy couple go swimming in the scenic lake and romp about in waterfalls.

The first half of the film has a sinister monster lurking in the shadows: pre-marital sex, it’s there behind every lingering glance and the accidentally, on purpose touch of hands, but in fact the true evil has still to come. The sardonic look at the ring bearing, slogan chanting abstinence scene is a refreshing departure from usual drink ‘n’ drugs high school dramas and the film’s politics are made morbidly clear as Dawn and Tobey share their first passionate kiss at the lake. Overwhelmed by his feelings, Tobey pins Dawn to the ground and ignores her objections with the line “Come on! I’ve not jerked off in three months!” But abstinence is not the only unnatural wonder in this story; this has all been set up to a frightening yet hilarious punch line, the revelation of the titular, gnashing teeth.

‘Vagina Dentata’ is the technical term given for Dawn’s special condition, though ‘Venus fly trap’ is perhaps a better description. A series of gruesome castrations follow with increasing amusement as a series of low lives try to take advantage of the pretty girl with the heart of gold and the vagina of vengeance. There is underlying commentary on female empowerment being the root of male fear, but overall it is more of an excuse to make a sexy film about a teen killer anti-hero. The plot is reassuringly predictable but it’s the subject that makes Teeth a memorable, fun experience.

Director: Allan Moyle
Screenwriter: Willem Winnekers
Runtime: 90mins
EIFF Screening:
Fri 24 Aug Cameo 23:50
Sat 25 Aug Cameo 18:00
Sun 26 Aug Cameo 12:30

From Jaws as a lady, to a Canadian romp of Satanists, gangsters and fighting midgets, Weirdsville certainly lives up to its title. Allan Moyle, the director of 1990’s Pump Up the Volume, directs another tale of disaffected youth featuring a pair of junkies as an entertaining double act, Royce and Dexter (Wes Bentley and Scott Speedman). Trying to steal money to pay back their thumb threatening local gangster, the plot includes over doses and slap dash midnight burials in reference to 90s film-cool, Shallow Grave and Pulp Fiction. But Moyle adds enough of his own visual exuberance to defy unflattering comparisons and his hallucinogenic effects lend extra scope to the irreverent caper humour. Music video quality moments are depicted in beautiful shots of drug fuelled euphoria including Dexter skating bare foot through the snow sprinkled streets of an Ontarian cityscape.

Occasionally the visual tricks jar in a Family Guy style but the interjections are smoothed over by our fortunately endearing duo and their dumb but smart dialogue. Most enjoyably Weirdsville doesn’t take itself too seriously and the ludicrous storyline is filled with bizarre non sequiturs; stopping to note a single green leaf that remains on an ice covered tree, for instance, is quite touching especially as they’re on route to rob a millionaire’s mansion. The nonstop pace and assortment of comic characters ensures that no minute drags on longer than it should, and the climax is appropriately gung ho. By turns genuinely engaging and laugh out loud funny, Weirdsville is daft but brilliant.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Emma,

Thanks so much for the kind words about "Weirdsville". I'm glad you had a good time with the film.

Warmest regards,

Willem Wennekers
writer of Weirdsville