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Anchor Bay presents
The Tooth Fairy (2005)

"She started luring children up there, taking their teeth and killing them. She put their teeth in her magic music box, and cursed the children so their souls would be trapped to wander the Earth forever. And that's why they call her The Tooth Fairy."
- Emma (Jianna Ballard)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: August 07, 2006

Stars: Lochlyn Munro, Chandra West, Nicole Munoz
Other Stars: Carrie Fleming, P.J. Soles, Jianna Ballard, Jesse Hutch, Sonya Salomaa, Steve Bacic, Peter New, Ben Cotton, Karin Konoval, Micki Maunsell
Director: Chuck Bowman

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (horror violence, language, nudity)
Run Time: 01h:28m:53s
Release Date: August 08, 2006
UPC: 013131414790
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B C+B-B C+

DVD Review

Not to be confused with the vaguely similar Darkness Falls, this Stephen J. Cannell-produced horror flick is the latest in his move into the straight-to-DVD horror market.

The results so far have been mixed, ranging from rather bad (Demon Hunter) to not-so-bad-with-potential (It Waits), and with The Tooth Fairy things show a marked upswing, with Cannell pairing up with his old television director pal Chuck Bowman to helm this slight reinvention of a classic childhood tale.

What we end up with here is another film that just misses with potential, but stands as the best of the Cannell library at this time. That may sound like damning with faint praise, and though it's not a glowing endorsement, The Tooth Fairy works as one of those Saturday-afternoon-have-a-couple-of-cold-beers timewasters that doesn't shy away from the stuff a horror film needs. Things get a little darker and bloodier, and certainly less reminiscent of episodic television.

A sepia-toned prologue set in 1949 Northern California lays the groundwork for the film's mythology, about a deformed old crone (the kids call her "old lady Craven") who lures kids to her remote farmhouse with the promise of a new bicycle in exchange for their loose baby teeth. Of course the kids never leave alive (see hatchet-induced prologue), and when the story jumps ahead to present day, the very same farmhouse of old lady Craven is in the process of being turned into a bed-and-breakfast by hunky former doctor-turned-writer Peter Campbell (Lochlyn Munro). His sometime gal pal and successful paralegal Darcy (Chandra West) is coming up for the weekend with her 10-year-old daughter Pamela (Nicole Munoz), and if you don't think the very evil spirit of you-know-who will set her hideously deformed sights on you-know-which-kid, then you're just not thinking.

This one is full of suitable horror elements—ghost kids, wood chippers, hatchets, magic music boxes, nail guns, hooded figures, talk of a "transcendent evil"—and in a surprise move they are all put to rather good use here. There's even Halloween cutie P.J. Soles wandering in as "that crazy old McDonald woman" who gets to utter the requisite "Mark my words, all who stay will die" line, which is just the kind of overly obvious dire warning that a film like this demands. The Tooth Fairy carries an unexpectedly high amount of blood and gore, certainly more so than I would have expected from a Cannell title, and any time a film includes a nail gun crucifixion, death by wood chipper, a pre-coital decapitation and even a cringe-inducing hatchet to the crotch, I just have to sit up and take notice.

Lochlyn Munro and Chandra West are blandly attractive as the leads, looking serious and intent, doing pretty much what we expect characters like this to do (which includes some god awful parenting skills by Chandra West's Darcy), but the film happily comes together with the secondary players. Aside from the fun of seeing P.J. Soles do a withered old woman, Carrie Fleming provides the sexy supporting guest-at-the-bed-and-breakfast role, as a stripper-turned-veterinary-student-with-a-heart-of-gold, and the cocky, selfish swagger of Steven Bacic shows up halfway into the film as a laid-back musician pal of Munro's Peter.

If I was basing this one strictly on a checklist of items, it would seem so much better than it actually is. It is full of cute blondes, offers kids in peril, has some fine horror gore and even delivers some cornball comedic dialogue thrown in here and there (see Chandra West's lament to her stolen Hyundai). Director Chuck Bowman comes through with some spooky visuals, enough to keep things interesting, most involving hooded figures lurking in the shadows. Yet the teleplay from Stephen J. Cannell and Corey Strode stumbles bigtime during the final act, when the only way to stop the Tooth Fairy involves a convoluted Scooby-Doo-style scenario that I'm sure the Department of Children and Family Services would be not consider proper in any way, shape, or form.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The Tooth Fairy has been issued by Anchor Bay in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The print is marred by quite a bit of specking (too much for a recent film), but otherwise the image quality itself lends itself to warm, natural fleshtones and adequately deep blacks. Grain is evident but not distracting, edge detail is somewhat soft, but overall a tolerable transfer that perhaps could have been better.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Two audio choices here, in either Dolby 2.0 surround or Dolby Digital 5.1, both in English. No beefs with the 2.0, but it lacks some of the modestly more pronounced spatial feel found in the 5.1 blend. Voice clarity is fine in both, but there is a bit more fullness to dialogue via the 5.1, and the added sense of movement across the fronts is a bit more dramatic. Rears are left for the occasional music cue or the ever-present rolls of thunder and lightning crackles.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Masters of Horror, Room 6, Demon Hunter, It Waits, The Garden
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Chuck Bowman, Stephen J. Cannell, Jesse Hutch
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Like the other recent Cannell-horror titles, this one comes packaged with a slipcase cover, and here the artwork is identical to the DVD case. The film is cut into a meager 8 chapters, with no subtitle options. The backcover mentions a trailer (presumably for the feature), but all that's here are previews for Masters of Horror, Room 6, Demon Hunter, It Waits and The Garden.

Director Chuck Bowman, writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell, and actor Jesse Hutch provide a commentary track, and while their rapport is pleasant, much of the material is far from stimulating. Cannell leads the chatter, touching on elements like a new day-for-night process brought into play because of the child actors and jokingly ripping into old pal Bowman for not getting a particular shot.

A couple of short featurettes follow, beginning with Hatchet Job: The Making of The Tooth Fairy (10m:47s), a standard issue EPK, with interviews from cast and crew intermingled with behind-the-scenes footage. Tales of The Tooth Fairy (02m:21s) has a select batch of the cast and crew offering their own childhood Tooth Fairy stories, and though it is rather pointless, it was actually fairy enjoyable.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

I'm beginning to see better material and effort coming out producer Stephen J. Cannell's foray into horror, and while The Tooth Fairy is hardly a veritable classic, it does have a few high quality kills, a brief moment of spectacular nudity and the good sense to stop at 89 minutes.

 


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