Tooth 4 Tooth is the latest film from Writer/Director Alice Maio Mackay (Smothered, Love and Blood, Book Club) and co-writer Benjamin Pahl Robinson (SplitTed, Inquisition, Passages). The cast includes Vincent Donato (Wrong Tracks 2018), Chris Asimos (Fags In The Fast Lane 2017), Shabana Azeez (Love, Guns and Level-ups TV series), and Brendan Cooley (Pine Gap 2018).
The thing that never gets old about writing about independent cinema is that it’s usually pretty easy to dodge spoilers and go into a watch completely blind. It’s the last pristine remnant of pure discovery that pretty much died with the video store. With that said, this film’s genre and subject matter were a complete mystery to me. I figured with the tooth thing, it was either a vampire or a werewolf film, and with the number substituting the word, it must be hip and/or edgy. Being a seasoned viewer sometimes means being a jaded one. What I ended up seeing was something that looks so much better than it should on the budget that most independent filmmakers have access to. It also has a clever subtext.
I really love finding a project like this, because I love watching things unfurl from promising yet unknown filmmakers. I always wonder if I’m reviewing the first film of the next Sam Raimi or Brian DePalma. Tooth 4 Tooth looks slick and is well-shot and well-paced. The opening scene is a voice over of how grisly, ritualistic murders have coincided with periods of historical unrest and seem to be a little known litmus test of troublesome times.
While investigating the murder of a friend, a drag artist and an activist find themselves caught in an old war between those who feed on the blood of the fearful and those who feed on the blood of the hateful.
Tooth 4 Tooth begins with a confrontation between religious zealots and drag performers. Nothing strange there. What is unusual is that bodies they find have been found completely drained of blood.
I’m going to make an unlikely comparison that makes Tooth 4 Tooth interesting as a short film, but an extremely deep rabbit hole of possibilities as a feature film. A few films, including this one, have played on how unrest and politics have been influenced by things that want to suck our blood or eat us. If the supernatural exists, it seems pretty logical that the natural part is the foundation for anything else that seems out of the realm of possibilities. Heightened circumstances in the known realm draw the supernatural to either direct it, prey upon it, or both. By planting the seed of the events being historically reoccurring, documented, and still ignored, Tooth 4 Tooth implies that if monsters descend upon us, we brought them there by baiting them with our own fear, hate, and despair.
I seldom advocate any side in politics. With that said, it’s impossible to ignore that horror thrives in troubling times. It is also factual to say that horror has been masterfully used since the beginning as a conduit for filmmakers to sew their world perspective into the linings of their films.
Tooth 4 Tooth does deliver with polished cinematography, blood, special effects, and a good cast. The most clever aspect, though, is the notion that when we start respecting each other, regardless of a difference in opinion or background, the monsters leave us alone.
Recent accolades on the festival circuit:
Finalist – 13 Horror Fest 2020 •Winner – Los Angeles Film Awards 2020 •Best Director Youth Filmmaker – Los Angeles Film Awards 2020 •Best Direction Young Filmmaker – Best Shorts Competition 2020 •Best LGTBQIA+ Student – Best Shorts Competition 2020 •Best LGTBQIA+ Student – Los Angeles Film Awards 2020 •Official Selection – FlickFair 2020 •Official Selection – The Lift-Off Sessions 2020 •Official Selection – Best Shorts Competition 2020 •Official Selection – Los Angeles Film Awards 2020 •Award of Merit Producers – Southern Shorts Awards •Award of Merit Cinematography – Southern Shorts Awards •Award of Merit Editing – Southern Shorts Awards •Award of Merit Score – Southern Shorts Awards •Award of Merit Production Design – Southern Shorts Awards •Award of Merit Sound Design – Southern Shorts Awards
Tooth 4 Tooth just secured a world wide distribution deal with Mattioli Productions based in New York. For more information, stay tuned to PopHorror for more updates.