By: Steph Cannon
In vampire lore, there are a handful of constants that inevitably show up in every iteration - be it in film, television, or books. The vampires themselves are going to be beautiful, charismatic, and living an opulent lifestyle. They’re going to be ageless, and susceptible to the dangers we’ve come to know as vampire kryptonite, like sunlight.
NIGHT TEETH, a Netflix original movie directed by Adam Randall, manages to find the right balance between combining familiar, bloodsucking plot points with a fresh, fun veneer.
The film begins with a very brief, and somewhat generic, narration about the history of vampires living amongst humans, before introducing us to college student Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), and diving right into the primary plot. Benny’s brother, Jay (Raul Castillo) conveniently mentions to Benny how he is unable to take a job assignment for the night chauffeuring clients, to which Benny jumps at the chance to take his place. Jay reluctantly agrees, and gives Benny a list of rules by which to abide.
A nervous Benny sets off to pick up the clients, and is visibly relieved and intrigued when he discovers they’re two young, alluring women. Zoe (Lucy Fry) and Blaire (Debby Ryan) inform him that he’ll be driving them around Los Angeles for what sounds like a night of affluent party hopping. Shortly after dropping them off at their first location, the first red flags are noticed by the astute Benny. Screams coming from the mansion when the girls are inside, followed by the rushed and abrasive attitudes they present to him once they return to the vehicle, are all Benny needs to start investigating exactly what he got himself into.
After following them into a club, he discovers, to his horror, that these aren’t your ordinary LA party girls, but vampires feasting on the blood of victims from location to location. He immediately presses them for more information, and realizes he’s been thrust into a much more dangerous situation than he feared.
The movie launches into heavy-handed exposition when Zoe and Blaire reveal they’re part of a gritty underworld of warring vampire tribes in and around Los Angeles. To further complicate matters, there’s a group of human protectors who are out to banish the bloodsucking creatures, led by his brother, Jay. As the night unfolds, Benny must not only find a way to survive, but also to save Jay, who is at the center of the war between humans and vampires.
NIGHT TEETH does a good job of continuously raising the stakes (pun intended) for Benny, by giving him people to fight for, while also handing him moral dilemmas to unfurl. This isn’t just about his life, but also the life of his brother. He also begins to form a bond with Blaire, whose backstory reveals she may be in over her head when it comes to her involvement in the night’s events.
NIGHT TEETH moves along at a quick enough pace, but does have moments where it feels bogged down with exposition and characters over-explaining certain key plot points to each other. Despite that, we do get nice tidbits of backstory for Zoe and Blaire that help to set them apart from your typical vampire. That said, the movie could have served to focus slightly less on the lore, which could have added more mystery and intrigue, and still would have given the audience enough information to understand what is going on.
The film’s strength lies in the young, talented cast, who carry it with believability and charisma (there are even cameos by familiar faces Megan Fox and Sydney Sweeney). We’re given characters to root for, which helps to ground the movie during even the most fantastical of scenes.
The effects are impressive, without feeling overdone, and we are treated to a few action sequences that help set NIGHT TEETH apart from many other creative vampire predecessors.
Ultimately, the movie finds ways to stay one step ahead of the viewer, without feeling too predictable. It also gives us enough vampiric familiarity for it to rest confidently among others in the genre. If you’re looking for a fun, unique take on vampires this Halloween, NIGHT TEETH is worth sinking your teeth into.
NIGHT TEETH is streaming exclusively on Netflix, beginning October 20, 2021.