2007 SUNDANCE DRAMATIC COMPETITION FEATURE! As far as legends go, “vagina dentate” is a hell of a tale. Yes, that’s right—teeth in the vagina. Director Mitchell Lichtenstein sticks this cringe-inducing myth front and center, playing it with campy zeal. Like a deranged version of “Clueless,” the film is light-hearted, yet subversive, displaying a surprisingly wicked bite…literally.
Dawn’s personal mantra is “Purity.” As a teen advocate for celibacy, she nevertheless struggles with her burgeoning sexuality. Despite the circumstances of her unique coming of age, she represents many modern girls. Confused by mixed messages, subject to sanitized education, and unable to talk to her parents, Dawn has few resources to help answer her questions about her body.
But let’s not forget the gore.
Hilariously gruesome, the film addresses masculine fears of the feminine unknown. Unlike the evil monsters of the ancient vagina dentate myths, Dawn is an innocent. Her acts of violence occur only when physical or psychological violence is done to her. If she ends up as something to fear, well, Lichtenstein implies that the product is largely man made.
More than just a horror-comedy, the film highlights the consequences of a society that makes sex a taboo subject and imposes impossible standards on its youth. Ignorance is the real danger here—not teeth.