I browsed some reviews, and culled these opinions as to just what the hell kind of movie this is: Teenage horror-movie spoof, John Waters parody, No Nukes protest movie, twisted sex-education film, quasi-feminist fable, outrageous stunt, cheap gag, macabre coming-of-age story, Cronenbergian body horror story, some kind of token of female empowerment, the Incredible Hulk of sex satires, an anti-date movie, the most alarming cautionary tale for men with wandering libidos since Fatal Attraction, a smart and creepy fable, a black comedy, a drama about teen angst, a romance gone bad, a B-grade horror film, an allegory about female empowerment, a deranged version of Clueless, a slasher picture, a faith film, a social satire, a teen romp, a ’50s atom bomb monster movie … So what the hell is it? It’s the story of a high school girl who gradually and painfully discovers she is not like other girls, in that she has teeth in her vagina. Sharp ones. This is apparently a very common theme in many mythologies, and even has a name, “vagina dentata,” for reasons of dark Freudian neurosis I will leave the reader to ponder. However … she gets over the horror when she realizes she is rape-proof. In fact, we could easily imagine her in a sequel, a sexual vigilante, leaving a trail of John Wayne Bobbitt stumps in her wake.
The movie is very well made for a novice director (Mitchell Lichtenstein, son of the famous pop artist Roy Lichtenstein), though some might find the early pacing a trifle slow. I prefer to think of it as deliberate. The camera lingers here and there, but usually for a reason. I had no idea what to expect, going in, as all I knew was the basic premise and that someone had described it as a feminist horror movie (though the gore is moderate by today’s standards, and mostly near the end). That’s the empowerment part. The girl, Dawn, soon discovers that she can make the decision to bite or not to bite. If you’re gentle with her, she digs sex … but you don’t want to piss her off! As you might expect from all the descriptions above, the film also tries to morph from one sort of movie to another, sometimes two at a time, and it’s not always successful in that. The parts that work the best are the very black humor … and yet, because of a wonderful performance by Jess Weixler (who I predict will go places, and soon) it can also sometimes be emotionally affecting, to my considerable surprise. Just imagine how you’d feel the first time this happened to you. What kind of freak am I? The answer she comes to accept is, the kind of freak you don’t fuck with. Literally.
I’m giving it a marginal thumbs-up, as E&R would say. I suspect some people will dig it more than I did, and some people will absolutely hate it.
I came across a line in a Village Voice review that is so good I simply have to pass it on: “I love the thought of Lichtenstein at the pitch meeting: ‘It’s Jaws meets The Vagina Monologues!’”