Netflix has recently been making solid gains when it comes to the horror genre and its many permutations, delivering a string of popular and entertaining titles that couldn’t be more different from each other. Whether it’s the comedic Vampires vs. the Bronx, the airborne thrills of Blood Red Sky, the atmospheric chills of His House or the slasher stylings of the Fear Street trilogy, the streaming service has been showing more love than ever to a medium that’s never really factored into the company’s plans for world domination.
Night Teeth has a relatively unique spin on vampire lore, plenty of stylish visuals and accomplished visual effects, along with a talented cast of rising stars and recognizable faces who are all very easy on the eye, so on paper it should be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, Adam Randall’s action thriller is a crushingly dull exercise in wasting the potential of a premise, and as a result it’s one of the least memorable Netflix originals to come along in a while.
The opening titles briskly run through the setup; vampires and humans have forged an uneasy truce that’s kept the peace for over a century, with Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights the epicenter of the undead underworld for reasons that are never really explained or justified. However, Alfie Allen’s Victor has grown tired of playing nice, so he decides to send his minions out to suck the competition dry and establish himself as the kingpin of a new world order.
Our audience surrogate comes in the form of Jorge Lendenborg Jr.’s Benny, an ambitious college student with big dreams who ends up filling in for his brother as a chauffeur, unaware that the kidnapping and subsequent murder of his sibling’s girlfriend has set the tone for an evening that’s about to get wilder than he could have ever imagined.
Benny picks up Debby Ryan’s Blair and Lucy Fry’s Zoe, taking them on a whirlwind tour of the city that finds him stumbling headfirst into a secret battle for supremacy the general population has no clue is even happening just behind closed doors. As mentioned earlier; it’s a decent premise for a hybrid of the action, thriller, fantasy and vampire movie, but Night Teeth never really clicks.
There are hints of an organization not unlike the mafia, with various vampire families maintaining some semblance of order and keeping their fanged peers in check, but it’s never explored. Megan Fox and Sydney Sweeney show up for a single expositional scene and that’s it, making you wonder why they’d even bothered to board the project in the first place, even if their natural star power and charisma makes them one of the highlights despite such limited screentime.
Night Teeth is full of of half-cooked plot threads and mythology that’s mentioned briefly in passing and then never picked up again, almost as if writer Brent Dillon wanted to throw as many cool things into the mix as possible, only to forget about them completely by the time the next set piece rolls along.
Without exception, every single character in the film is as one-dimensional as they come. Benny is the out of his depth frightened protagonist learning about vampires at the same speed as we are, Blair is the undead bad girl with a good heart, Zoe is the malevolent menace, Victor is a British bad guy, Benny’s brother Jay is the stoic, grief-riddled figure out for revenge, and on it goes.
Everyone talks about Jay as if he’s the pivotal figure in the war between humans and vampires, but we never really find out why. There are hints of an intriguing underworld similar to that of John Wick‘s cabal of assassins but with vampires, yet we never get to see it. There’s even a hierarchy in place that gets dismantled offscreen before we even find out enough about it to care, with the desperation to run through the plot as fast as possible robbing Night Teeth of any tension, stakes or excitement.
The central trio of Benny, Blair and Zoe do their best to carry the narrative through the strength of their performances alone, with former Disney Channel star Ryan leaning into her doe-eyed persona while subverting it at the same time, while Fry is having an absolute blast as the scenery-chewing badass without a care in the world. It’s just a shame that everything surrounding them is so formulaic, with any shred of inventiveness quickly glossed over as the action constantly moves from one location to the next, without ever giving us a reason to invest in why these people are doing what they’re doing, or what it all means in the grand scheme of things.
Night Teeth has style to spare and never disappoints on a purely aesthetic level, but that’s nowhere near enough, especially when a lot of Netflix subscribers will be going in with high hopes, seeing as we’re talking about a vampire movie releasing on the world’s most popular streamer less than two weeks before Halloween. Sure, it’ll no doubt generate some strong viewing numbers as a matter of circumstance, but it’s very unlikely anybody will have even the slightest interest in watching it twice.
Night Teeth is a disappointing vampire thriller that's all style and no substance, leaving plenty of interesting world-building and unique mythology behind in favor of a formulaic story audiences will see coming from a mile away.