Tooth & Nail – 5

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Director – Mark Young

Cast – Nicole DuPort, Rider Strong, Michael Kelly, Alexandra Barreto, Robert Carradine, Vinnie Jones, Emily Catherine Young, Kevin E. Scott, Zack Robidas, Michael Madsen, Beverly Hynds, Rachel Miner

Release Year – 2007

Reviewed by John of the Dead

Tooth and Nail has been on my queue for quite a while, and to satisfy my recent craving for some apocalyptic horror I decided to finally give this one a watch.  Debuting as part of Horrorfest 2007’s 8 Films To Die For, I expected a mediocre effort going into this film, and that is exactly what I was given.  The story and atmosphere are good and sure to provide enjoyment for fans of apocalyptic horror, but silly dialogue and lack of execution on key elements kept Tooth and Nail from achieving anything above a mediocre rating.

In a post-apocalyptic world, a group of survivors lead by Professor Darwin(Robert Carradine) have holed up inside an old hospital, sharing supplies and doing what they can to rebuild their lives.  When they witness a young woman in trouble they rescue her and accept her into their group, but their kind gesture soon becomes and ill-fated one.  Following the young girl was a hoard of ruthless cannibals, referred to as “Rovers”, and what was once a quiet and secure sanctuary is now a battleground for the survivors who must fight off an outnumbering, very powerful, and very hungry enemy.

I have always enjoyed post-apocalyptic horror films because they are easy for me to relate to in this day and age.  Every day we hear some sort of banter on the news or radio about how the world is going to end very soon either by or own hand or by God’s hand, so these films allow me to put myself in the situations the characters are in and see what I would do in their shoes.  In other words, the films envelops me, making for a fun experience in that sense.

Tooth and Nail’s apocalypse came not in the form of global warming or nuclear war, but something much simpler, and in my opinion…hard hitting.  So what caused the apocalypse in the film?  Simply put: we ran out of gas.  I have honestly never seen a film of this type which came with such a simple explanation for the apocalyptic events that took place, and the film backs this idea up with positive explanations as to how what seemed like a simple element(gasoline) turned the world upside down when we ran it till the last drop.  To make matters even better, the film never takes a strong political stance or exhibits stupid propaganda, and instead gives us what we came to see…horror.

Setting the film in an abandoned hospital was a genius idea because it allowed our characters numerous places to hide from their attackers, but it also allowed the attackers numerous ways to get into the hospital as well.  I fully enjoyed how the location was used, and basically the entire film’s runtime takes place in the abandoned hospital.  We are given a lot of characters to follow, which I did not mind one bit because none of them were useless and underused, plus it provided more deaths for us to marvel at as well.  Normally a film with such a location would qualify as a nowhere-to-run scenario, but that was not the case here because our protagonists had the opportunity to run, but instead chose to stay and hide due to how outnumbered they were, and idea that I enjoyed.  We get some positive character play between the numerous characters involved, although this occurred mainly in the realm of the protagonists.  While our antagonists, the “Rovers” were interesting and fun to watch, they really did not provide anything more than hack and slash killing and cheezy one-liners.

Writer/director Mark Young’s directing job was so-so in this film, with the majority of his positive elements coming in broad areas and his negatives coming in the form of the “little things” that matter.  I enjoyed his dark and gloomy atmosphere as well as his locations used for the hospital, and he managed to keep things interesting for a film that takes place pretty much in one location.  He threw in lots of positive live-action gore, and his execution during the kills scenes was top-notch as he did not shy away from showing the goods with the fullest intent of making the viewer flinch.  The acting performances were mostly mediocre at best, and even veterans Ryder Strong(Cabin Fever, Borderland, “Boy Meets World”, Vinnie Jones(The Midnight Meat Train, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), and Michael Madsen(Reservoir Dogs) were unbelievable in their roles.  The latter two were “Rovers” and did not see very much screen time in comparison to Ryder Strong, and it honestly seemed like they were paid for a day’s work, produced their lines, and went off to film more serious efforts.  Thankfully, the film’s climax is a very enjoyable one that bleeds awesomeness and is executed to the best of Mark Young’s ability, and kept this mediocre film from sliding further into the negative direction it was headed.

Overall, this is a decent film that delivers an interesting premise on its post-apocalyptic world, and delivers some good carnage as well.  Certain elements could have been better written and executed, such as the film’s crappy dialogue and poor acting performances, but awesome kill sequences aided by the film’s fantastic climax kept this film an OK watch in the end.

Rating: 5/10

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