Lionsgate // 2007 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // March 24th, 2008
The After Dark Films Horrorfest is a relatively new film festival established in 2006 that allows indie horror filmmakers a chance to showcase their work, and gives horror fans a chance to check out new talent and films they might otherwise not see. Horrorfest is unique in that it takes place in hundreds of theatres at once, sort of a national festival without one single location. The "Eight Films to Die For" DVD collection assembles all the movies together, so you can recreate the 2007 festival at home easily enough.
Tooth and Nail takes place after an apocalypse, but it's one that doesn't rely on the usual super flu or nuclear bomb. No, this horrific future comes courtesy of the world running out of gas. Petroleum supplies disappear, and soon after so do electricity and any form of civilization. People are trying to survive as best they can, and we are introduced to a group holed up in a hospital. They split up tasks and hope like hell to keep going as long as they stick together. They rescue a mysterious girl off the street one day and take her in as one of their own. In short order, a group of cannibals called Rovers shows up, and soon the hospital dwellers are in a battle for their lives as they have to fight or become dinner.
The whole thing reminds me of a lower budget, less creative 28 Days Later, with real humans substituting for the zombies as a threat. That's not all that threatening, but I guess they're trying to make a statement about the savagery of man when gas goes up beyond $5 a gallon and disappears altogether. Michael Madsen (Kill Bill: Vol. 2) and Rachel Miner (The Black Dahlia) are the most notable cast members in the film, and they both turn in solid enough work in this low-budget cannibal tale. They act competently with what they are given, play nicely with others, and only run with scissors when chasing down people. The rest of the cast includes B-movie idol Robert Carradine (Lycanthrope), Vinnie Jones (Juggernaut from X-Men: The Last Stand), Rider Strong (Cabin Fever), and Michael Kelly (Broken English). The cast does fine with what they have to work with here, although the pace is slow enough in the early reels that they all feel a little languid at the start. I can't fault the actors for the shortcomings of the film.
The biggest problem with Tooth and Nail comes from being predictable throughout the entire running time, and that makes it lack energy when compared to the films that inspired it. We're given the usual scenarios, and until a climactic final reel battle, the film doesn't have too much going on. The high point in all of this is when one of the survivors decides to paint herself up like Conan's girlfriend or Darryl Hannah from Clan of the Cave Bear, and go all warrior princess on the flesh eaters. Aside from that somewhat unique sequence, the rest moves along at a mundane, pedestrian pace. You wonder why these kids trapped in the hospital don't decide to fight back sooner, and since we barely know anybody, it is hard to care who gets chomped on and who makes it out alive. It lacks the tension of a traditional horror film other than wondering who will end up as lunch, dinner, or breakfast.
Video is presented in anamorphic widescreen, and it looks okay if not stellar. There are nice black levels, and the washed-out colors look true enough. Haloing issues pop up, and grain and video artifacts are seen on a routine basis. The surround sound provides strong and clean dialogue with some punch during action scenes. The sole extra is inclusion of webisodes of the Miss Horrorfest Contest for 2007, which are on every After Dark Horrorfest DVD this year. The webisodes are short looks at a reality TV-type contest to name the new mascot and feature a lot of scantily clad Goth girls competing for the title. The clips are fun, but have no relation to the film.
I've heard some say Tooth and Nail was the least effective of the
2007 Horrorfest entries, and it is very different when compared to the rest of
the "films to die for." The idea of a cannibal apocalypse tale could
work well as a horror film, but unfortunately the bad guys show up as normal men
who don't seem all that threatening. Other than the fact that they are a little
bigger than average, it appears after the gas ran out, the tall people with gym
memberships and Michael Madsen decided to eat people. That's not all that much
of a stretch and not too scary. The movie is pretty silly when you get down to
it, and I guess that prevents it from being too damn scary. If you're a fan of
any of the actors, or like post-apocalyptic cannibal movies, then maybe you'll
get more out of it other than the casual viewer.
Review content copyright © 2008 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Miss Horrorfest Contest Webisodes
* Horrorfest Official Site
* Miss Horrorfest's MySpace Page
* YouTube Miss Horrorfest Clip