Tooth and Nail
US Rating: R - Strong Violence, Language and Some Sexuality
Film Length: 94 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English and Spanish
The Film - out of
In 2006, a festival of horror films was created – sharing with eager horror fans independently produced genre movies that promised to chill them to their bones, scare them to death and entrance them, as the marketing goes, in a state of fear. After Dark Films brought together eight films that would likely not otherwise have found an audience. This ‘Horrorfest’ festival assembled little known or unheard of films that dealt with stories of ghosts and ghouls; the grim and gross. The 2007 Horrorfest sought to reignite the success of the first festival, by bringing to audiences a collection of 8 more films to die for. The films in the 2007 festival included tales of zombies, ghosts, strange creatures and the end of the world. The collection of 2007’s ‘8 Films To Die For’ include Nightmare Man, Unearthed, Tooth and Nail, Lake Dead, The Deaths of Ian Stone, Mulburry St. , Borderland and Crazy Eights.
In a future ravaged not by, as the movies opening narration says, nuclear war, plague, infection or a devastating comet, but rather the anarchy born from the chaos of a world that ran out of gas…literally. A small group of survivors who chose not to migrate south where conditions were supposed to be better are holed up in an abandoned hospital. On patrol one day, they come across a survivor of an attack by a band of roving cannibals. Saving her leads the brutal human flesh-eating savages to their enclave and safe haven and what ensues is a bloody stand off and a fight, tooth and nail, for survival
Tooth and Nail was written, edited and directed by Mark Young and takes its tone and bleak feel from recent, better films about the dire state of things when the world comes to an ‘end’. Films like 28 Days Later and Reign of Fire quickly establish the sorry state of the planet and then indulge, in equal parts, both the novelty of a post-apocalyptic world and the characters left inhabiting it. Making the film as much about the people as the ‘idea’ allows the audience to more readily invest in their fate and more easily accept the bleak circumstances they find themselves in as real. This is the single greatest flaw from which all flaws emanate about Tooth and Nail.
Conflict among survivors is not only normal, but expected. However, this group of individuals who fall under the leadership of a professor, not so subtly named Darwin, are unreasonably terse with each other, and of all things to be in these circumstances, petty. They snipe and gripe meaninglessly, without feeling or drama, and are apparently cautious about their future and those who have survived alongside them. These characters, each managing to generate little by way of sympathy or emotional investment actually become an annoyance. This aggravation they create is not made any easier by the strange notion that after only a few years of a world descended into chaos, they would abandon their real names and adopt ridiculous names, stolen it would appear from cars, some apparent touch in recognition of the gas guzzling cause for the bedlam they are in. Names like ‘Dakota’, ‘Neon’ and ‘Viper’ (yes, someone was actually called Viper) – all names of Dodge vehicles, is just a little too much to swallow. Then of course you have ‘Ford’ – which highlights the total lack of subtlety this movie has with its messages.
The central foes, Rovers, who pick off one person a night – only as much as they can skin and eat, are less than fearsome. They lack the ferocity and menace of the undead from Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and appear more like a lumbering rabble of ECW wrestling rejects than the flesh hungry sadists they are supposed to be. Even the brutish Vinnie Jones and train wreck of Michael Madsen add little by way of spice to the barbaric cannibals to stir up much interest.
The cast of unknowns and semi-familiars (including Nicole DuPort as Dakota, Rider Strong as Ford and Robert Carradine as Darwin)may be hamstrung by the script, but they each do little to add any depth or immediacy to what they were handed. This makes for a less than exciting or thrilling set-up or showdown. Even the films twist comes as less than a shock and does little to add weight to the somewhat anti-climactic final moments of the third act.
Tooth and Nail is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16X9. The image is drained of brighter or contrasting colors and appears quite soft in places. It lacks overall sharpness; it isn’t particularly revealing of fine details and is quite disappointing. I am not sure if it is from the director’s chair of the transfer that the poor framing comes from, but characters heads at times are cut off when they are part of the scene and we would expect them to be within the frame.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio has some good bass elements but is, for the most part, a center channel focused film with scenes filled with dialogue. Some scenes pull of directional effects with a few creaks and echoes in the cold corners of the hospital setting, but nothing to impress. The distortion free, clean sound do help, but there just isn’t any wow factor.
Miss Horrorfest Contest Webisodes - (19:19) – Split in to several chapters that you can select or choose a ‘play all’ feature, this quest to find and crown the next Miss Horrorfest comes off like the slew of annoying ‘reality’ show excess clogging up the airwaves (and now the internet). Basically a classless diversion and mostly irrelevant to the horror film proceedings.
Tooth and Nail is a disappointment. It lacks characters, drama, thrills, chills and most unforgivably, it lacks scares. The ‘8 Films To Die For’ label should bring us the darkest and truly most frightening pieces of independent horror that the mainstream can’t bear to bring us. But if this film is any indication, all it has done is find a way to package a less than effective horror film with seven others in hopes that the marketing will be enough to sell some tickets and now DVD’s.