When the words “Megan Fox” and “vampire” are involved, it should seem like any movie’s guaranteed recipe for (at the very least) b-movie fun with the potential for future cult status, but unfortunately for Netflix’s latest fright Night Teeth that isn’t the case. Though Night Teeth’s neon-lit aesthetic and ultra-modern concept make it an intriguing twist on conventional vampire tropes, the painfully uninteresting story and uninspired performances turn what should be a pulse-pounding joyride of a night into a middling adventure that barely makes it to daylight in one piece.
Starring Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Debby Ryan, and Lucy Fry, Night Teeth follows college student Benny (Lendeborg) as he takes his older brother Jay (Raúl Castillo)’s shift as a high-end chauffeur. Though initially Benny expects to be carting around minor celebrities or drunk party girls, his night quickly descends into bloody chaos when he realizes his two VIP passengers Blaire (Debby Ryan) and Zoe (Lucy Fry) are vampires. Unable to defend himself and unsure of how escape the night alive, Benny becomes the reluctant accomplice in Blaire and Zoe’s bloody night of dropping bodies: a string of targeted hits meant to shift the power and control of Los Angeles into the hands of their boss, the broody vampire Victor (Alfie Allen).
To Night Teeth’s credit, the film is a fresh, modern interpretation of vampire lore – less Twilight or Interview with a Vampire and more Collateral, if Tom Cruise was a vampire party girl. Theoretically the film’s flighty structure should lend well to a fast-paced adventure twinged with gore, but Night Teeth struggles to keep its own premise interesting – opting to bog its audience down with names and vampire politics as opposed to clever fight scenes or compelling character work – the latter of which only becomes a major plot point in the third act when things are all but resolved narratively.
It’s frustrating to see such a good premise go to waste, but not quite as frustrating as the utter waste of both Megan Fox and Sydney Sweeney, whose combined screentime is about 10 minutes – if that. Their miniscule scenes aren’t even substantial, either – their characters Grace and Eva are as uninspired as they are present in the film, and could’ve been played by quite literally anyone. It’s a remarkably transparent use of recognizable names to draw viewers in, but a particularly brutal bait-and-switch when both characters could’ve been cut from the film entirely without a single significant narrative repercussion.
Instead, the two vampires we do spend time with are the aforementioned Blaire and Zoe, who, despite their sizable screentime, are less actual compelling, interesting people and more walking talking expositional devices with bad hairstyling and costumes that occasionally drop one-liners or bite someone’s head off. Lucy Fry’s Zoe in particular gets the short end of the stick here – although she’s in nearly every scene, she’s always playing second fiddle to Debby Ryan’s Blaire, about whom the filmmakers clearly care much more. As a result, Zoe is a generic ‘bad girl with a heart of gold’, whose heart of gold isn’t explored or even truly acknowledged in earnest until the finale when the film hopes to cash in some emotional chips with its audience.
Blaire, on the other hand, fares slightly better – doubling as both secondary protagonist and eventual love interest to Benny. Though she too suffers from the same painfully unoriginal writing and gaudy styling choices as her more sinister sister in arms, Blaire does get the chance to reveal more vulnerable layers. At times, though, this merely feels like a consequence of her proximity to Benny as opposed to the strength of the character on her own – an issue which isn’t helped by Debby Ryan’s lackluster performance – a role I would go so far as to say is miscast.
Rounding out the trio is the not-so-intrepid Benny, who’s far and away the film’s best character. Lendeborg gives one of the film’s two strong performances – the other being Alfie Allen as Klaus from The Vampire Diaries knockoff Victor. As Benny, Lendeborg brings plenty of charm, humor, and genuine heart – though bumbling and (ironically) a passenger in his own narrative more than anything else, he’s still an endearing figure thanks in large part to Lendeborg’s natural charm and charisma. Though his family relationships are underbaked in favor of more world-building, which results in Benny’s interpersonal narratives falling about as flat as the rest of the film’s feeble attempts at character building, Benny still serves as a strong anchor around which the rest of Night Teeth’s world revolves.
While normally this type of film may still be salvageable to pulp fans if it had a sharp eye for aesthetics or a particularly gruesome edge to its fight scenes, Night Teeth can’t even boast either of those elements in its favor. Though it dabbles with interesting camerawork every now and then, director Adam Randall can’t manage to create a tangible, interesting world (visually or otherwise), despite all the expositional time he devotes to doing just that. The fight scenes are similarly abysmal – a vampire b-movie should at least be reliable for a few good kills, but most of Night Teeth’s fight sequences either take place offscreen or are so brief and uninteresting it becomes almost laughable. Though Jorge Lendeborg Jr. makes for a compelling enough lead, Night Teeth drags its feet in all the wrong ways – bogging what would otherwise have been a fresh, fast-paced vampire flick down with needless exposition and half-baked characters.
Netflix will release Night Teeth in the U.S. on October 20.