Ginger Nuts of Horror
when the film shifts the tone completely away from a tense thriller into an almost gleeful Carry On Killing pastiche.
EVEN LAMBS HAVE TEETH (2016)
There is a history of films that for one reason or another decide to take a stylistic and tonal left turn partway through their running time. Sometimes it works and keeps in with the overall theme of the film, however in too many cases it ends up failing miserably. These left hand down moments tend to come across as though those involved with the movie had no idea what to do next and decided to listen to someone who had no business being involved with the film at all.
Even Lambs Have Teeth is a film that takes a rather odd shift in tonality, from at first glance looks like a typical rape-revenge thriller, to a more comedic sassy girls get even in lots of funny ways type film. It is a film that despite a rather heavy-handed approach to filmmaking sort of works.
Sloane and Katie, are dreaming of a shopping trip to New York, but don't have enough money for the journey, let alone a decent amount of shopping money. They decide to take a summer job working on an organic farm. Obviously, they have to do this to further the story, but surely to girls who were obviously High School Cheerleaders, a job digging in the dirt would be an anathema to them, maybe River Island wasn't hiring for the summer.
Before they head off to the country, which going by anyone's knowledge of America, is surely not a very good idea, The paranoid relative of one them, (who just happens to be an FBI Agent) gives them a piece of advice, where they will text him every day, but use a codeword to let him know that everything is OK, but to change the codeword everyday so as not to alert anyone who kidnaps them and steals their phone.
While this may very well be a great piece of advice, I would have hoped that a paranoid FBI agent would have insisted on a more subtle use of this emergency code. Simply sticking a random word like "Apple" with zero content into the text message would possibly alert those who had kidnapped the girls. Something which we will touch on later.
Off they head on the bus to their new temporary life as farmers. When they stop off at the nearest village to the farm, they are charmed into accepting a ride from a pair of Dukes of Hazard type good old boys, handsome and charming they somehow manage to get past every single natural instinct that anyone would have will in the backwoods of America, and proceed to kidnap the girls without them even knowing.
They take them to their farm where there mother drugs them and ends up chaining them up in storage containers where they will be used as playthings for the all of the locals in on the act.
The girls, get abused, then escape and rather than fleeing to safety, decide to go on a fun-filled extravaganza of revenge and murder most horrid.
Even Lambs Have Teeth is a very strange film, despite the use of some very silly plot points, such as the code word, which the kidnappers figure out faster than a Countdown Champion of Champions figures out the conundrum. And the cliche of having almost everyone in town in on the act, it still kind of works.
The initial part of the film once you look past the mistakes in plotting and logic, that obviously comes from am inexperienced filmmaker, is rather tense and unnerving. Credit must be given to Terry Miles decision not to go for the voyeuristic approach when the girls are raped; we aren't privy to the actual crime. In some ways, this shapes the onus of the film from being about two girls being raped, to two girls getting revenge on their rapists. Far too many of these films linger too much on the actual act. I understand that thus is to make us feel uneasy, but in the majority of the recent films, it comes across more as the director using it as a way to get his kicks, We Are Monsters is a film that springs to mind for taking this tone with the act.
The viewer is left in no doubt about what is happening and the severity of it, we are left to let our imagination do the work, which in this day and age of show and not tell is a good thing.
However, the use of stock characters and cliched Hillbilly type villains does let the film down, as does their complete lack of any motivation, other than the act itself. If only they had used the Pig Masked character as a motivational point, and explored his role in the rape with his role in the community. For the short time he appears in the film he manages to leave a lasting impression, and when it is revealed who he is, felt like a wasted opportunity.
When the girls escape, and the film decides it's not in Kansas anymore, is when the film shifts the tone completely away from a tense thriller into an almost gleeful Carry On Killing pastiche.
And for all of the shifting, the film kind of works, mainly due to the outstanding performances of the two female leads. Their mix of sassiness and doe-eyed innocence makes for a captivating performance. And when combined with the inventive gruesome means by which they enact their revenge makes this part of the film highly enjoyable.
Even Lambs Have Teeth, is a very uneven film, for every high point such as the two female leads, there is something that hampers it, the main culprit is the FBI Agent, his ineffectual bumbling makes even Inspector Clouseau look like a competent detective. However, it is still an interesting and for the most part an enjoyable way to spend 80 minutes. It will be interesting to see what the director does next.