Terry Miles’ first horror film, Even Lambs Have Teeth is an amalgam of revenge thrillers wrapped in a millennial bouquet of well framed violence. Breaking with the low budget horror conventions of excessive gore and throwaway victims, Miles' foray into depravity and comeuppance explores a dark world populated with flesh and blood characters whose plights are genuinely endearing.
Best friends Sloane and Katie have dreams of an expensive shopping trip to the Big Apple. To pay for their extravagant dreams, they agree to work on a farm in the wilderness of Washington State. Sloane, the more free willed of the duo convinces hesitant Katie to accept a ride to the farm from a pair of attractive locals which takes them into a predictable, but none the less disturbing hell on Earth. Miles’ script is an unusual departure for the genre, outpacing its predecessors with a distinct presentation in the second half, surpassing the tired limitations of its archetypical characters with inventive kill sequences and some surprisingly funny (albeit vicious) dialogue.
Anna McDonald's cinematography is steady throughout, and yet, there are moments of unrestraint that show her immense knowledge of not only horror films, but of the subversive and controversial roots of a vendetta feature. A drug fueled LSD intro gives way to a postmodern Deliverance before circling back to a female empowerment bloodbath and McDonald's shot composition perfectly transforms with each permutation. The violence is shown almost entirely off screen, a byproduct of a smaller budget that also allows the bulk of the terror to be created within the mind's eye and due to superior craftsmanship and an above average cast for this type of endeavor, it works extremely well, particularly during the welcomed insanity of the final act.
Kirsten Prout as Sloane and Tiera Kovbye as Katie give performances that inspire loyalty almost from the first frame. They initially appear as carefree and yet, despite their endless sexual conversations and superficial plans of economic frivolity, there's a hardness lurking underneath the bubblegum veneer, echoed by their cold acceptance of their dangerous situation after things begin to unfold. Even Lambs Have Teeth is, at its core, a story about characters, both vengeful and vile who have accepted the perils of the world as fundamental components of a shared existence. While the central duo embraces this inner horror as a totemic weapon against their inhuman tormentors, the villains have harnessed it into a carnal commune of dread. Characters, both their development and destruction are the marrow of this movie.
Available now for digital rental, Even Lambs Have Teeth is an intimate, character driven horror story with few narrative surprises that still manages to entertain because it takes its time engaging the viewer. You instantly know almost how the film is going to play out within seconds of the girls' ordeal beginning, but by that point, thanks to outstanding lead performances and above average camera work, you've become invested in a pair of interesting young women who are defined not by their looks, but by sheer force of will and gruesome ingenuity.
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