Synopsis – A college student moonlighting as a chauffeur picks up two mysterious women for a night of party-hopping across LA. But when he uncovers their bloodthirsty intentions – and their dangerous, shadowy underworld – he must fight to stay alive.
My Take – Imagine if one borrowed the plot of Collateral (2004), the aesthetics of John Wick (2014) and the essence of Daybreakers (2009), and rolled into one, well, that’s exactly what you get in this Netflix’s latest foray into vampire commercialism which is betting big on name recognition and slick visuals to sell its film which fits together like a puzzle made from different jigsaws.
However, while the film sorely lacks in compelling creative elements, the film directed by Adam Randall (2019’s I See You), it is thankfully never devoid of entertainment as it’s look, feel and sometimes dizzying camerawork keeps the tale mildly interesting even when the script continuously raises red flags. Add to that the charming lead performances and superficial cameo appearances from Megan Fox and Sydney Sweeney, the film delivers formulaic fun without putting much demands on its audience.
Never substantive, or scary, without reinventing the wheel, it will certainly quench viewers’ thirst for vampire narratives.
Set in L.A. in a world where Vampires exist, but have kept their existence a secret following a secret pact that was made between them and the humans authorities 100 of years ago, in which they agreed to feed on only those who provided consent, all the while they grew rich and powerful, living the high life during the nights.
The story follows Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), a socially awkward and kindhearted kid, who lives with his grandmother and dreams of becoming a musician. Unknown to him his older step-brother Jay (Raúl Castillo), is a vampire hunter tasked with upholding the pact, and now is going on search for his girlfriend who has been abducted by Victor (Alfie Allen), a vampire overlord looking to break the pact. Leaving to Benny take over his limo driving duties for the evening.
As bad luck would have it, Benny’s job for the night is to drive a pair of mysterious women, Blaire (Debby Ryan) and Zoe (Lucy Fry), to a variety of nightclubs and parties, who as Victor’s Hench-women are doing a lot more than just partying.
Staged as a generic vampire action thriller, the film is scarily predictable, with foreshadowing that gives away the plot immediately, only kept afloat and interesting with the brewing romantic tension between Benny and Blaire which began the moment they met and only progresses with the night. This being one of the main parts of the film takes away from any more complicated or intellectual portion that might exist, but it provides an attractive focus point during viewing.
But of course it always feel like director Adam Randall and writer Brent Dillon were aiming to create anything groundbreaking. Involving only moments of indulgent nonsense like the singular scene that has Sydney Sweeney and Megan Fox share is delicious. They’re vaguely represented as vampire bosses that control Beverly Hills, who don sexy and celestial Goth outfits.
However, any attempt to make these characters fuller portraits are under-baked. Benny wants to be a musician, Blaire has lost her entire family and now feels dependent on Zoe, even Jay only given a girlfriend to track down. Even subplots go missing for extended periods and the characters often don’t make much sense. While that stuff is easy to ignore, it’s a missed opportunity to build something far more interesting from a well-worn set-up.
The action-by-the-numbers scenes do nudge the plot grudgingly. Perfunctorily mounted, they do not elevate the gore, horror or thrills, but by the third act, the moderately paced tale loses steam, but not its intrigue value as to what will happen to Benny.
The visuals are the film’s strongest asset. Cinematographer Eben Bolter makes every frame pop with his bold use of lighting and color to create an appetizing world for the night-time action.
Performances wise, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. sells the whole film with his innocent, bumbling turn playing the wide-eyed human who accidentally crosses paths with vampires. Debby Ryan and Lucy Fry do their best to chomp on the scenery. Fry‘s Zoe is the better foil as a vampire who freely admits that immorality can cause one to go a touch insane. Plus, as Blaire’s sire, Zoe becomes an obstacle for both her best friend and Benny as they begin to develop feelings for each other. Fry provides much needed zest and zeal for the film, operating as a nice juxtaposition to the luxuriant music and imagery.
Raúl Castillo waltzes in with a confidence despite having lesser screen time, while Alfie Allen feels bland and lost. In brief appearances, Alexander Ludwig, Megan Fox and Sydney Sweeney are sorely wasted. On the whole, ‘Night Teeth’ is a mildly trashy neon-drenched vampire romp that is good enough for a couple hours of distraction.
Directed – Adam Randall
Rated – R
Run Time – 107 minutes