Tooth & Nail Review

People eating each other and more on the end of the world news…

The world’s supply of petrol has run out. Rather than simply making do with walking everywhere and hurriedly manufacturing a lot of solar panels, wind turbines and hydroelectric power stations, people panicked and did what people have done best since first coming down from the trees and walking upright. They fought for what resources remained. Two thirds of the world’s population died in the wars that followed. Those that were left, headed for the warmth of equatorial countries. Or, without leaving the United States, departed the northernmost territories for the southernmost. However, a few remain in the city where they hope to rebuild society. At first, they merely scavenge for what food is still unspoilt and plan for their future. But their existence of one of these groups is interrupted by their finding a mysterious young girl on the streets. A fox in the hen house, she unlocks the doors to the hospital in which they live, where they fall victim to a group of cannibals who call themselves the Rovers.

Not that I believe the Rovers exhausted all other options before deciding to become cannibals. Indeed, while yellow taxi cabs were still driving down Broadway and Ryanair flights clogged up what airports there are half-a-day’s travel by road from anywhere that might be considered a city, the Rovers had probably already turned their back on fruit and vegetables, sharpened their teeth and picked off the occasional bum or two so to sate their appetite for human flesh. The apocalypse was surely only an excuse to take their taste for cannibalism into the open, whereupon they didn’t have to disguise their taste for human flesh by pretending it was pork. After all, as the world collapses all around them and people depart either for battle or for the warmth of Florida, who is going to object to Vinnie Jones and Michael Madsen turning up their nose at rotting fruit and chowing down on humankind.

Come to mention it, though, I believe very little of the world that writer and director Mark Young has built for his film and that includes the desolate wasteland that some enterprising executive picked out for the front cover of this DVD. Where Terry Nation had his survivors eke out an existence from the land, milk goats and, if you remember this site’s review of the series, iron their shirts, Young sets his down in an old hospital where they pass the time doing, well, very little. They bicker, they fuck and they scavenge for food. Apparently, they are also rebuilding society but if they manage anything more than a LEGO version of it in their lifetimes, or indeed a drawing of what they would like from this rebuilt world, I’ll be more that a little surprised.

The city location may limit their ability to plant seeds and whatnot but an allotment can’t have been be out of the question. Even in an entire city, they seem unable to find enough tins of food to sustain themselves. Instead, they moan at one another about having to eat what looks like a soup made from scraps of paper. Or, when they’re being particularly frugal, just the paper. Perhaps making fun of his thinking himself smarter than the average survivor, Robert Carradine’s Darwin is apparently working out a plan for a sustainable future. But unlike those who lived through Nation’s apocalypse, Darwin fails to consider what might happen should they not arm themselves. And they don’t, which left this viewer wondering how many of the very forgettable characters would die before one of them, possibly the mute girl who gets the nickname Retard, goes as crazy as a wasp in a jam factory and makes like Rambo.

But if our lot aren’t armed, that’s not to say that no one isn’t. Not only do the Rovers have guns, knives and giant axes available to them but also a longbow. And oddly for such a rundown world, there is no shortage of leather, fur and stomping big black boots for Jones and Madsen to wear. There are seemingly no shortage of horror movie cliches either. Clearly the exodus to Florida left all of these behind in vast numbers as Mark Young picks plenty of them for Tooth And Nail. Not only does he owe a great debt to John Carpenter and Wes Craven, for their Assault on Precinct 13 and The Hills Have Eyes, but also I Am Legend (and the after-the-end-of-the-world movies that it inspired), Aliens, My Little Eye, The Descent and even Clan of the Cave Bear, it being called in on account of Young having his heroine slap on the warpaint and take the fight to the cannibals.

The killings aren’t all bad but without any suspense, there isn’t very much fun to be had from them. Tooth And Nail lacks even any sense of silliness. Its cast simply walk into a particularly quiet part of the hospital where Michael Madsen or Vinnie Jones stab, slash or shoot them. Presumably all the good ideas for killings have been used up in twenty score and more Halloween, Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street movies and that Hollywood have now fallen back on the basics. And if all that wasn’t all bad enough, Vinnie Jones, who manages to get himself locked in a fridge that actually has another exit, pops up in a ‘surprise ending’ to frighten us all with the possibility of there being a sequel, which is the most threatening thing that he’s done in the entire film. “The end is here”, says the cover. Frankly, the end couldn’t come soon enough.


Tooth And Nail is anamorphically presented in 16:9 and looks alright, if a bit sot and lacking in definition. Granted, it does look very dull indeed, particularly if empty hospitals aren’t quite your thing, and what little colour there is often looks washed out, which isn’t helped by the very early mornings that were necessary to get the streets so deserted, but the picture has an appropriate bleakness to it, which the DVD just about holds onto. It’s also a very dark film, not just in tone but also in presentation and the longer the film goes on, the more the characters disappear into the background. Tooth And Nail also has quite a large cast and where The Descent did a lot better with a cast of six, the various survivors and Rovers do tend to get lost. The actual film is partly to blame for this but so too is the presentation of the film on DVD.

There is a choice of soundtracks on this disc, either DD2.0 and DD5.1. Like the picture, it sounds fine but some of the dialogue is a little unclear at times. It really should stand out more, while the death scenes should have much more impact. They sound a bit limp, which greatly reduces their effectiveness. Finally, there are no subtitles.


The only feature on the disc is a making-of, Do Or Die (19m49s), which interviews most of the cast and the main crew about the writing of the film, the characters, special effects, locations and stunt work. These interviews were recorded in a mix of locations, some on the set, some prior to the commencement of shooting and one at the premiere to the film. There’s a little behind-the-scenes footage of the movie in production but with the exception of the planning of the daytime shoots in city locations, not much is learned about the making of Tooth And Nail. There is also a Trailer (1m34s) for the film.

Eamonn McCusker

Updated: Mar 21, 2009

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