Two Front Teeth
November 25, 2008 (US DVD)
Jamie Nash and David Thomas Sckrabulis
Johnny Francis Wolf as Gabe Snow
Megan Pearson as Noelle Snow
Michael Brecher as Ed (Chief Editor)
Joseph L. Johnson as Pete
Josh Buchbinder as Clausferatu
By James “Crypticpsych” Lasome
Gabe Snow (Johnny Francis Wolf) is the star reporter for the holiday-themed tabloid “The X-Mas Files”. At the moment, his story on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the plane crash of Flight 1225 has gone over great with readers. However, all is not sugarplums and stockings for Gabe… he’s continually haunted by a crippling fear of Santas and knows that his wife Noelle (Megan Pearson) is cheating on him. That all takes a backseat, though, when deformed, monstrous zombie elves attack his home and wife. His editor (Michael Brecher) knew about all this, having had his ear ripped off by the creatures, and lets him know that Santa’s dark helpers are targeting Gabe in an attempt to find Pete (Joseph L. Johnson), the source for his story. Noelle and Gabe head to see Pete in an attempt to find out more about what exactly he knows about that fateful accident. Unfortunately, the elves aren’t about to leave them alone… and their vampiric boss (Josh Buchbinder) isn’t far behind. (This is all I’m saying about the plot. To say any more about the crazy, unexpected, yet weirdly logical places this movie goes would be a disservice to it.)
The serial killer in a Santa suit is a Christmas horror staple thanks to the sleazy, cheesy classicSilent Night, Deadly Night, the controversy surrounding it, and its recent remake. When taken on its own, though, the Santa story is pretty dark in and of itself. Imagine having never heard of who Santa is or what society has told us he is. Then you hear of a mystic being of some sort who sees everyone all the time, who watches them and knows everything they’ve done wrong, who can fly and has helper minions who assist him in his bidding, who can get into any house whether it has a chimney or not, and who only works at night. There’s no need to put an unrelated psychopath IN the suit, it sounds fairly frightening already!
Thus the simple genius of Jamie Nash and David Thomas Sckrabulis’ film Two Front Teeth… the over-the-top indie horror-comedy that uses the Santa mythos as the basis of its own bloodthirsty legend. The key to its success is that, while it’s undeniably trying to be funny… it’s playing this story straight. The acting is fittingly over-the-top and the story never misses an opportunity to take an aspect of its own story or a Christmas tradition to an incredibly darkly comic place (let’s just say the reason Gabe has a Santa and Christmas phobia is painfully, hilariously, almost wrongly dark)… but the actors feel like they’re buying into this insane story with every fiber of their performances. When they do, the audience does, which makes the movie’s 75-minute runtime fly by in a whirlwind of insanity, a little animation, and effective Christmas puns and one-liners.
On the acting side, special mention has to be made for the performances of Joseph L. Johnson as “Pete” the informant and Megan Pearson as “Noelle”. Johnson is exactly the kind of one-liner-spouting, ass-kicking character that a movie like this absolutely demands. Pearson, on the other hand, is vital for a different reason: as a foil to the performance of Johnny Francis Wolf as “Gabe”. I get what the filmmakers were going for…he’s a wussy, whiny, spineless kind of character. To be honest, they actually go a little too far in that direction to the point where his uselessness in high-pressure situations can actually get a little annoying. However, that’s where Pearson shines by being an outstanding female lead that can more than hold her own fighting alongside Pete and spout a fair share of great lines, one-liners, and puns of her own. When she’s getting just as exasperated and annoyed with Gabe as the audience is, it’s impossible not to love her. It takes a great performance to make a cheating wife who, at times, is JUST this side of psychotic into a likable character, but Pearson is more than up to the task.
However, let’s be realistic here. In addition to the at-times-annoying “Gabe”, Two Front Teeth has technical issues. It’s shot-on-video, so visuals are surprisingly fuzzy and low-quality given the movie was made in 2006 and released on DVD in 2008. Also, a few lines in the audio mix are a little tough to hear (though I will freely admit I’ve seen a lot worse audio mixes on indie movies). Finally, the animation during an expository flashback sequence and a moment in the credits was a bit lackluster. However, all of those are attributable to the movie’s low-budget indie nature, and the filmmakers are even able to make some issues work to their advantage. For example, most of the movie is unnaturally dark due to bad lighting. While that is definitely a negative, it never gets to the point where it’s impossible to see what’s going on, and it almost feels like it enhances the set design and what lighting IS present, giving the film a decidedly appropriate red, green, and/or white lighting scheme in some scenes.
Overall, Two Front Teeth is a great indie holiday horror-comedy that works by playing a ludicrous, over-the-top concept straight. It’s funny and entertaining without trying too hard to be so. It’s also a movie with definite technical issues that actually manages to diminish their impact through above average script, story, and acting. This one is in no way for the kids but it definitely deserves a place on the holiday horror shelf of any older Horror Freak with a taste for absolute out-and-out festive madness who can look past its low-budget seams.