Monday, 18 May 2020

Tooth Fairy 2 (2020) - Horror Film Review

Tooth Fairy was one of the worst horror films I have seen this year. I never imagined at the time I saw it a few weeks back that I would not only be sat here writing a review for its sequel, Tooth Fairy 2, but that I would be saying it was actually quite darn enjoyable. Take a look at all the classic horror film franchises, Saw, Hellraiser, The Evil Dead, Friday the 13th, Halloween etc. What do they all have in common? For me personally I see the first entry in each of these series as the very best, after that it is a slowly declining drop in quality with each new installment. Tooth Fairy was not a good film, yet its sequel breaks the mould by being at worst twice as good as the first movie. There will be unavoidable spoilers for the first film as a warning.

Corey (Jake Watkins) was one of the only survivors of a night of terror fifteen years back, in which him and his family were terrorised by a demon with an obsession for teeth. Due to his traumatic experience he has suffered severe PTSD his entire life, and still experiences vivid hallucinations. Some years after leaving college, Corey gets an invite to a reunion for him and his ex dorm mates that is to take place at a farmland property. One of his ex dorm mates, Paul (A J Blackwell) has an ulterior motive for the meet-up. As a child, his cousin was murdered by the tooth fairy (who was explained in the media as being a serial killer), Paul has ever since been suspicious of Corey being one of the only survivors of the attacks, and intends to pull a cruel prank on him, in order to finally pull out the tooth (sorry, I mean pull out the truth) of what happened all those years ago.

Tooth Fairy 2 really feels like it is far more comfortable in what it wants to be. The first film got so bogged down in mediocre drama that at times it seemed it had forgotten it was supposed to be a horror. The scenes of horror in that first film had a comedic edge to them, something that jarred violently against the rest of the films serious tone. I expected a sequel would double down on this silliness, but I was surprised that this entry removes the comedic aspect and plays everything super seriously. I mentioned in my earlier review that the tooth fairy didn't look very good as a movie monster, it was obviously someone wearing a unrealistic mask. This has not changed for the sequel, one shot in particular was a close up of the monster, in which you could clearly see the wire gauze that makes up the black eye sockets of the monsters face. Just what or who the antagonist is this time around is far more up in the air. On the one hand you have Paul, he has hired a friend to dress up like the titular monster in order to terrify Corey. Then there is the fact that the film never hard confirms just what the creature is. There is much evidence that Corey himself may be insane and doing all the killings, but then there is just as much to point to the fact that, yes, this is a demon from Hell. You come to distrust the camera's perspective, this is shot in a way that you could argue we are being shown the film from an unreliable narrator's point of view, rather than what actually happened. This even casts shade on the events of the first film, maybe that was really a serial killer in a mask rather than a monster? It is to Tooth Fairy 2's credit that these questions are never answered.

A lot of the acting here is not the best, yet it is a giant step-up from the often awful acting first time around. Some actors are obviously better than others, I would say I found the character of Edgar to have the most wooden performance. Elsewhere, Blackwell's Paul may be over the top evil, but this spirited performance gave the character an intensity and screen presence regardless. Corey is not a likeable protagonist, he is sullen, moody and miserable, but then he is designed to be. He is a victim of past trauma, I liked that his former house mates also found him to be both creepy and an outsider. 

The creature design is the weakest part of the film, it was hard to be impressed by key scenes that looked so restricted by budget. The finale in particular must have sounded fantastic on paper, in execution it just seemed a bit lame and underwhelming. Props to the epilogue though, that final shot had me grinning from ear to ear, and reminded me of the way Italian zombie movies of the eighties would often end. Influences from other movies can be felt at times, a murder scene in a car brought to mind the iconic one from Halloween, elements of Friday the 13th also popped into my mind, while a bit towards the end felt similar to the end of Hellraiser. I was surprised that Louisa Warren was once again directing, I felt the first film was as bland as they come, here though the directing seemed much better, add a serviceable soundtrack and some half decent cinematography and you have a better movie.

Tooth Fairy 2 is a giant leap up from before, yet to get the most out of it I would say that first film is required viewing. You don't need to see it to understand the story, though it will give this greater context, more you need to have seen the first one in order to understand how much this has improved. Without that first movie feel free to take a rotting zombie head off my score, with Tooth Fairy in mind this was a film that was on a whole other level, and so deserves a score to match that improvement. Toothfairy 2 is to be released by High Fliers Films, and thanks to ChampDog Films for the screener.


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