First of all, what’s with the Stuber hate? Stuber is a fine mismatched buddies comedy with some fun R-rated shenanigans. I won’t stand for any drive-by groaning about Stuber! Drax won’t stand for it either!
But I’m with you on First Teeth, @David2! It’s absolutely wonderful. A charming throwback to the overall vibe of Something Wild, where the lovable repressed lead is drawn into a night of liberating thrills, peril, and intrigue by his very own Manic Pixie Dream Girl. So what if she’s a vampire? Magic Pixie Dream Girls are more fun. Even if they’re probably going to get you killed by the end of the night. Heck, in this case, they might be the ones who kill you.
Director Adam Randall’s last movie was I See You, which was a slow-burn mystery with a weirdly abrupt solution. But Night Teeth, by a different screenwriter, has none of that structural gimmickry. It’s all very up-front, drenched in color and neon and shots of LA and some pretty stylish filmmaking. The opening exposition might make you think you’re about to watch a comic book adaptation, an animated movie, or a videogame. Night Teeth is front-loaded with some nonsense about vampire empires in Los Angeles.
But then it settles down for a story about characters. And since this is ultimately a romance, like Something Wild, the key to making it work is the two leads. They don’t have the star power of Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith on the big screen, but they have charisma and chemistry to spare. Debbie Ryan is one of those child actors who grew up on the Disney Channel and is now armed with a formidable smoldering sexuality. She has to have more range than Lucy Fry as the more fun over-the-top murderous vampire girl, and she gets a nice monologue about her past pre-vampire life. More importantly, she has to click with the male lead, played by Jorge Lendeborg. I’ve seen him before playing supporting roles, but he has no problem carrying Night Teeth. He’s one of those actors brimming with sincerity and it’s a great foil to Abbie Ryan’s confidence. There’s even a whole storyline about his brother that works because Lendeborg is so appealing.
I was really surprised to see that this was shot partly in New Orleans, because the production leans into the Los Angeles setting and I would have sworn it was all shot here. There are certainly a lot of LA exteriors, including some scenes that an indie movie like this normally wouldn’t be able to afford.
Finally, there’s the title. I thought it was the dumbest title as the movie started. Night Teeth? Really? You’re going to name your vampire movie “Night Teeth”? But as it progressed and developed as a throwback to the fun urban adventures of the 80s – Something Wild, After Hours, and Adventures in Babysitting all come to mind – I realized that the title is pretty much perfect.