Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tooth And Nail (2007)

Note: This review is part of my coverage of Horrorfest II.

Tooth And Nail

This one's a winner. I didn't even remember what at all this film was about when it came on, so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was impressed with what it had to give. It's a post-apocalypse story, which is a good start in my mind. But it has a unique approach and appeal. Mankind hasn't been completely wiped out, and there was no massive apocalypse, by way of explosion, deadly disease, monster mutations, or anything like that. We simply ran out of gas. No cars, no electricity, no heat. People went crazy, life became survival, and many died. People ran south, for the warmth, but the crowding and the fighting over supplies makes it a danger zone. This story focuses on a group of mostly young adults, "The Foragers", living in a hospital up north, where people are scarce, and their fatal run-in with a group known as "The Rovers".

After saving a young woman from these Rovers one day, the Foragers become their next target. Turns out the Rovers are a band of cannibals - and dressed for the part. Their appearance, attitude, and hunger label them as Vikings, savages, barbarians, beasts among men. They all wear hides and armors and other intimidating battle gear, and they all carry brutal killing weapons. They come out at night, usually taking one life per day, to feast on. Humans keep fresh better when they're alive, you see. But it's only a matter of time before they eat you to the last one. But the Foragers' attitude is, "if they want dinner, they're gonna have to pay for it."

Among the Foragers, there's Darwin, the professor/leader, the old man of the group. He's smart, and knows how to keep things in control. There's Viper, the man with a hot temper and a distaste for authority. Dakota, the clear-headed and able female. Nova, the young mute girl. And a few others. I like their names, they have a kind of sci-fi ring, but it's understandable. It's the post-apocalypse, society has crumbled, you can give yourself any fucking name you want, so make it something you like. The Rovers' names are cool (and appropriate) as well, like Jackal, Mongrol, Dingo, etc.

The setting and atmosphere is great; the characters are all mostly interesting; the sense of dread with the Rovers closing in for the feast, and the Foragers with practically no chance of survival, and the hunt itself, is all very exciting. Michael Madsen (you might remember him as Bill's brother in Kill Bill) does a great job as one of the Rovers. "This just isn't your lucky day, boy. And I got bad news for you, it's not going to get any better." "We can do this the hard way, or the easy way. It doesn't matter to me, but either way, I'll be gnawing on your bones by sun-up." And the ending is very thrilling, in a feel-good-but-feel-bad-about-it sort of way.

I was rooting for Nova the whole way. You could tell she had better instincts than any of 'em. And there's just something appealing about mute girls. They don't get into that whole stupid "talking" thing that humans think is so damn important. I always liked Newt in Aliens, and I was intrigued by Tiffany in Hellraiser II. Of course, with the mute characters, you always have to have that stupid point in the film where they finally say something, usually to much less comedic effect than was probably intended, but I can forgive them for that. It's really more the writer's fault than the character's, anyway.

So yes, this was my favorite film of the festival so far, and I totally recommend it. Very cool and very exciting post-apocalyptic horror film. Go and see it sometime.

"I'm going to kill you."
"Not if I eat you first."

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