Horrorfest '07: Tooth and Nail (US - DVD R1)
Gabe pinpoints the exact moment that the After Dark Horrorfest started to suck.
The world is plunged into a violent apocalypse as the last oil well is bled dry. Without gas everything goes to hell, and the vast majority of humanity is dead (?). A small group of survivors holds up in an abandoned hospital where they make tentative plans to start civilization over, but things go all screwy when patrol brings back a stranger who is pursued by a gang of cannibal survivalists.
It’s around this moment that my 2007 After Dark Horrorfest took its first real dip in quality from around average to rather dismal. Tooth and Nail isn’t a horror film, it’s a light-on-action thriller. There’s some gory violence and a few scenes that attempt something like suspense, but it isn’t scary or even sold as such. Then there’s the matter of the cast, which is proudly listed as including Michael Madsen, Vinnie Jones, and Robert Carradine, who are in the film for a total of maybe seven minutes. Madsen and Jones’ parts don’t even amount to cameos, though we get plenty more post- Borderland Rider Strong (note to all actors: if you are staring in two of the 8 Films to Die For your career is on the down slope).
But the real problem isn’t the lack of terror or decent actors; it’s the script, which is just unbelievably dumb. It’s a bad Hills Have Eyes meets Mad Max-on-a-budget clone that is packed to the rafters with predictability. Ten minutes into the film my buddy and I had successfully guessed the entire plot, including last act twist. Then we had to sit through our account in slow motion. The characters split up when they should logically be sticking together, one character disappears for most of the film only to show up without any explanation just in time, minus his beard (they play it off as a joke, but I don’t buy it), and the protagonists spend their valuable day time hours (when they aren’t being hunted) moping and napping rather then setting up any kind of defences or, you know, escaping. All the girls look fabulous, with freshly plucked eyebrows, lipstick, eye shadow, and ace haircuts, despite the end of the world scenario, the dialogue is full of one ‘I’ll get you for this’ cliché after another, and the ‘Rovers’ look more like local SCA members then apocalypse roughened killers.
Writer/Editor/Director Mark Young lifts narrative and visual quotes from a veritable library of better movies. More specifically it’s as if Young read a book about allegory in modern horror films and tried to stick as much of this knowledge into his film as possible. The kill order and last act actions both back up the same post-feminist horror movie themes that were laid out in the 1970s by Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, then Young explores them with visual cues stolen directly from recent releases The Decent and Haute Tension. The cause of the apocalypse—a lack of gasoline—is so preposterous I spent a good five minutes assuming it was just a metaphor for the real cause. I’m just about the greenest, most liberal, tree-hugging environmentalists you’ll ever meet, and I’m a huge fan of political underpinnings in my B-movies, but I can’t buy the lack of gasoline causing the sudden and violent downfall of modern society. I can buy that bad things might happen, but even Discovery channel scare-umentaries wouldn’t claim such a sudden dooming of humanity when the gas crisis comes to a head.
Tooth and Nail seems to have one an average budget for the Horrorfest, so it looks pretty good on DVD. The print’s biggest problem is combing and interlacing effects, which made getting screen caps a chore. Details are distinctive, and a lack of interesting lighting ensures a flat look where contrast is a non-issue. This was one of a few Horrorfest releases featuring distinct and noticeable print damage artefacts, but these were minimal and did not occur more then a handful of times.
Again, Lionsgate and After Dark Films impresses with this Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which isn’t as lively as some of the more stylized series entrees, but still full of successful directional effects. Dialogue is clear and mostly evenly recorded, though there are some obvious moments of ADR flubs peppered throughout. The action sound effects are appropriately overstated, but sound more like proper foley work rather then the library effects found in so many of the other Horrorfest titles. The film’s score is rather unmemorable, but it sounds fine, as does the more loudly represented rock music that opens and finishes the film.
Mark Young is not given the chance to defend himself in the form of a commentary track or making-of featurette. This disc contains nothing but the same The Eye and Horrorfest trailers found on every other disc and a solitary Miss Horrorfest webisode. Good for me, though, I didn’t have to watch any more Tooth and Nail that absolutely necessary.
If you really, really, really love Vinnie Jones there is one joke at the very end of the movie that might make it worthwhile renting. Otherwise I say skip this one. The composition is flat, the actors don’t care, and the plot could be sued for plagiarism by dozens of more popular features. The DVD looks and sounds all right, but extras are absent.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 18th March 2007
Disc Type: Single side, single layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English and Spanish
Extras: Trailers, Miss Horrorfest Webisodes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Mark Young
Cast: Robert Carradine, Michael Madsen, Rachel Miner, Rider Strong, Vinnie Jones
Length: 94 minutes
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