Netflix’s new vampire thriller Night Teeth envisions a world where many sexy people coexist as vampires in feuding tribes. While it lacks the thrills, it’s impossible to deny that Night Teeth has style as a noir vampire tale with surprisingly rich lore and a unique take on the typical vampire mythology. Eben Bolter’s cinematography is the real standout here, and his work makes me excited to see what he’ll do with the upcoming miniseries The Girl Before, which feels suited to his style.
The story begins when a college student Benny (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), takes over a chauffeur job for his brother Jay (Raúl Castillo) one night, unaware that Jay is deeply embroiled in vampire politics. Jay is a human liaison that tries to keep the peace among the humans and vampires to ensure the bloodsuckers adhere to the rules and don’t cause chaos for everyone. Vampires only have to follow a few rules to keep the peace, mainly feeding only on the willing and never stepping foot into Boyle Heights.
The job Benny takes is to chauffeur vampire besties and villainous lackeys, Zoé (Lucy Fry) and Blaire (Debby Ryan), around for the night. Unbeknownst to Benny, Blaire and Zoé are work for Victor (Alfie Allen), the film’s primary antagonist. Allen is fine in the part but never feels all that menacing. To be fair, the script doesn’t give him all that much to do except drink blood and tell other people to do stuff. Victor has grown tired of playing nice and wants to go where he pleases and eat who he wants. As motives go, it’s not a particularly strong one, but I’ve seen worse.
Victor enlists Zoe and Blaire to cause chaos so he can systematically destroy the carefully constructed vampire-human trust and vampire infrastructure. Poor Benny gets caught smack dab in the middle of it all.
Night Teeth: At least it’s pretty to look at it
Night Teeth is pretty to look at. The colors are vibrant, everyone is stunning, Sydney Sweeney and Megan Fox share the screen for approximately 10 minutes, and everything is cast in a lurid neon glow. As I said, it’s stylish, although I’m not sure it goes into any groundbreaking territory. A few visuals stand out, such as one scene with glowing red lights and the entirety of a sequence shot inside a hotel for vampires. The cinematography pops even if the script has significant pacing problems and lacks action and thrills.
The most frustrating aspect of Night Teeth is the lack of action. There are several scenes where the main fights occur off-screen, a strange decision for a vampire movie. Benny will take Zoe and Blaire somewhere, and then the scene changes just before we get to the exciting part, leaving most of the film comprised of Benny driving the girls around town or long conversations between people. That’s not exactly what most people are looking for in a vampire film.
Bloodshed is mainly kept to a minimum. When we do see blood, it’s already outside the victim with the violence and gore implied most of the time. I’m not saying it needed to be a hyper-violent gorefest, but it’s weird, to me, to make a vampire movie that wants to be a slick, action thriller and then leave it devoid of actual thrills and chills.
I did appreciate the worldbuilding, but Night Teeth falls flat there too by not exploring the scope. I wonder if this story might have worked better as a series.
Night Teeth, or how to make a bisexual vampire movie without the bisexuals
None of this means Night Teeth isn’t fun to watch. It might be a little too slow at times, but the romance at the center is sweet. Lendeborg Jr. is perfectly adorable as Benny, and Lucy Fry is a blast to watch as Zoé. If she wants to keep playing vampires for the rest of her career, I’d be totally okay with that.
My final note is that it seems like a waste to put Sweeney and Fox in a movie together and then not make them do actual vampire stuff. They don’t even get to bite anyone on-screen! Not only that, but there was so much potential to add in some queer romance between either Zoé and Blaire or Eva and Grace, yet we got nada, zilch, zip. The whole movie is cast in bisexual lighting, yet no bisexuals are in sight. What gives Netflix?
Night Teeth is now streaming on Netflix.