The horror movie industry has long had a tradition of subverting things from our childhood and turning them into fodder for fright films. Santa Claus, clowns, evil toys and creepy dolls have all had their place and this time around director Chuck Bowman takes a shot at none other than the Tooth Fairy. It's an interesting idea that had some potential, but sadly the actual execution of that idea just doesn't provide us with anything we haven't seen before.
Peter Campbell used to be a doctor but when he couldn't cut it he tossed away his medical career in favor of following his dream of becoming a writer. He left the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and moved out of the apartment he shared with his wife Darcy and step-daughter Pamela to fix up an old house out in the country and turn it into a bed and breakfast. What Peter didn't realize when he bought the place is that there were more skeletons in the closet than he was told. When strange things start happening around the house he initially figures that the hillbillies he kicked off the property for squatting might be behind it but he soon comes to the realization that there's something far more sinister at work than a few bumbling rednecks and that something out there wants his step-daughters last baby tooth and will stop at nothing to get it from her.
Produced by Steven J. Cannell, the man behind The A-Team, this film is little more than a by the numbers exercise in generic horror movie making. While the intro wherein a boy visits the witch known as the Tooth Fairy to trade his last tooth for a shiny knew bike is and eerie and promising start, it soon slows down to a snails pace for half an hour or so while we get to know the characters. While more often than not getting to know the characters in a movie is a good thing, here we just don't care as none of them really have anything in the way of a personality. We see Peter and Darcy go to bed together in some sort of attempt to rekindle what they once might have had but the scene lacks emotion and therefore has no impact. Likewise, when the occupants of the inn find the hired hand has been run through a wood-chipper that he was trying to repair, the former stripper/wannabe veterinarian who had been making eyes at him remarks about how much he loved football in some sort of vein attempt to create a sense of loss when really the only impressive thing about the scene is when the wood-chipper spits out his guts at the camera.
To the film's credit, the kill scenes that populate the last third of the movie are creative and pretty gruesome. Aside from the aforementioned wood chipper scene we see an old woman get her back impaled by about thirty nails from a nail gun and we see another woman nailed to the wall and floor only to have her four limbs hacked off by a hatchet, not to mention the decapitation and schlong severing scenes towards the end. These make the movie a little more fun than it would be otherwise and they are genuinely surprising the first time around but it isn't enough to give the movie any real suspense or any legitimate scares past the initial mild shock value that they present.
The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is sharp and colorful with more detail present in the image than you might expect from a modestly budgeted DV production. From the opening scene that takes in 1940s rural California to the later, darker scenes that occur inside the bed and breakfast at night, the image remains quite strong. There are no problems to report with mpeg compression artifacts and while there is some moderate aliasing to look for here and there, it's not overpowering nor is it omnipresent. Black levels stay pretty deep and there's no color bleeding.
Audio options come in your choice of a strong Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix or a less impressive but still decent stereo mix, both in the film's native English language with an English closed captioning option available. The 5.1 track sounds better mainly because of the effects placement and the way that the score is used in the rears. Other than that, both tracks sound nice and clean and neither has any problem with hiss or distortion worth noting. Once in a while dialogue is just a tad on the low side but this isn't common, it only happens in one or two scenes. For the most part, this movie sounds very good on DVD.
Chuck Bowman is joined by the film's producer, Steven Cannell, and lead actor Jess Hutch for an audio commentary that proves to be more interesting than the actual movie that the three participants are discussing. The cover casting, location shooting and some of the effects work as well in a fair bit of detail and while there's nothing in here that will change your life, it's an active discussion with a lot of information contained within. You get the impression that regardless of the quality of the film, the people who made it did have a good time working together on the project and some of that enthusiasm does shine through in this talk.
Hatchet Job is an eleven minute documentary on the making of the movie that is made up of some behind the scenes footage and a few interview clips with all of the principal cast members and a few of the crew members as well. There's some repetition here with what's covered on the commentary track but there's also some alternate discussions and this proves to be more than just a typical talking head featurette – there's actually some substance to this.
Rounding out the extra features is a brief featurette called Tales Of The Tooth Fairy where the cast members share tooth fairy related stories from their youth, and trailers for a few other Anchor Bay horror DVD releases. Menus and chapter stops are included for the main feature and the disc comes housed inside a slipcase cover.
Anchor Bay gives a fairly bad movie a pretty solid DVD release. While the movie, save for the fun kill scenes, is boring, at least The Tooth Fairy looks and sounds pretty good and the disc has got a few extras as well. Unfortunately, that's not enough to save this turkey. Skip it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.