A spectacular bore of a film, Night Teeth has neither the bite nor the brimming desire the title promises. A bunch of vampire goons want world domination but speak like characters sculpted from a designed Netflix checklist — they sound smart but vacuous, confident but tiring, casual but styled. There are blood cocktails and blood clubs, with warring factions, vampires in bombers and leather pants, and humans with vampire-like body language and raccoon eyes. LA is in the midst of an existential moment, but little to nothing in Night Teeth suggests it. The movie feels like kids plotting civilizational collapse, talking to each other on plastic walkie talkies, dented from evening play in the sandbox.
Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), the driver of two rich, jeweled young women — Blaire (Debby Ryan) and Zoe (Lucy Fry) — for a night of party hopping, soon realizes the sinister intention of the night. Blaire and Zoe are vampires, locked in a power struggle to take over LA. Benny is Jay’s (Raul Castillo) brother, one of the last men who can actually stand up to the impending vampire invasion. There is a milk glass-like treatment explaining the relationship and the covenant between humans and vampires and why the vampires want to come back and take control now. An explanation that feels like a shrug of a shoulder — it is what it is.
Things get complicated when Benny and Blaire develop tender feelings for each other, mostly proclaimed through completely cold kisses and sex. There is no desire in this film worth watching — for love, for power, for blood. Blaire and Zoe drink thick red liquid from the nervy necks of men strapped onto vertical gurneys, and blood pours from taps, into martini jars. It looks like wine, but whatever, I’ll bite.
Like any age-old genre, the vampire film has wedded itself to the mores of the time to remain relevant — old world gothic horror, 80s young blood, the romanticized isolation of Twilight, and now, geographic, intersectional specificity. This film, directed by Adam Randall and written by Brent Dillon, revolves around Boyle Heights, the nerve center of Chicano culture in LA, hosting the Mariachi Plaza and annual events like the Día de los Muertos celebrations. It sweeps into the genre the current aesthetic practices, with a lead that honours the culture they represent, but like mere embellishments, it only glitters up a dead body.
Over half-way through the film, clocking in at less than two hours, Benny asks Blaire, both seated casually by a poolside after smashing skulls and slashing bodies, “I don’t know how you can be so chill about all this.” They joke. Just an hour ago Benny was a student trying to cough up cash doing other people’s assignments, falling asleep in class, composing EDM spillage. And now, he just smashed a bottle against a man’s head, killing him. A swerve that is so radical on paper but feels so easily gotten on the screen, betraying a slippery narrative quality that is more interested in keeping you glued than keeping you invested.