Tooth (2003)

Director Phil Davison
Writers Phil Davison
Starring Ralph Bennet, Mike Beban, Kathleen Harris, Jane Prebble, Shayne Wills, Kim Tait, Bruce Bisset, Tim Bowman, Joesph Hartzenburg
Genre Documentary
Run Time (minutes) 22.00

Talk us through it

Phil Davison throws a documentary at us on why people hate going to the Dentist. Basically the twenty odd minute short is a bunch of people recollecting dental horror stories, while what I guess are meant to be ongoing gags are spasmodically inserted for no apparent reason.

Looking for en excuse not to visit the Dentist? Let Phil Davison give you an out.


"Applied the pliers of the dental persuasion" - Bruce Bisset

Strangely Tooth kicked off with a not overly funny dental gag that really should have been edited out. Besides not exactly having me rolling around the floor laughing, it failed to indicated we were about to launch into a documentary. It took a couple of people talking about their experiences in the dental surgery before I twigged to the nature of the short. Bad start Mr Davison, a humorous introduction only works for a doco if the audience are aware of the nature of the show they are about to watch. Unfortunately the gag turned out to be of the on going variety, which proved to be almost as painful as some of the dental stories from hell. I have the notion that Davison was trying to use it to sort of bookmark new sections of his journey into dental purgatory but since it wasn't working I didn't take a heck of a lot of notice to be honest.

Basically then Davison spends twenty minutes allowing some talking heads to describe their experiences at the Dentist. The Director generally cuts between two people throughout the documentary's twenty odd minute run time, and overlaps some tales of dental woe to get his continuity happening. Unfortunately some stories are a hell of a lot more engrossing than others, this documentary relies on the people talking being able to actually tell a yarn, and to be brutal I would have cut out at least one person who was barely coherent. On the bright side of the dental drill there are some top rate story tellers included, but you'll need to wade through the chaff till they get their turn in front of the camera.

If you were brought up in New Zealand as a kid then it's no wonder you view the Dentist as the earthly incarnation of Satan. Pain killers weren't given to kids!

Highlights included one dude telling us how the stitches put into his gums post dental operation burst at the most inopportune moment one Christmas, an ex dental nurse who had some real tales of terror about how one Dentist tried to cut costs by re-using needles etc (AIDs must have been a real bummer for that Dentist), and a bloke who saw a plaster cast of some patient who must look like an extra out of the yank movie Feast. By the way I'd keep off the streets of Waipukuru after dark folks, wonder if they have a whole bunch of unsolved missing person cases in the otherwise sleepy Hawke's Bay township?

The winner for mine however were the people relating home tooth extraction attempts, personal I would rip into a bottle of single malt before attempting any of these kids. The old standard of tying a string to the tooth and then tying the other end to a door knob apparently doesn't work, there I was thinking that was an urban myth. One variation on this was heating an iron bar and thrusting it into the face of the patient, the natural inclination is to jerk your head back, ergo no slamming of doors required. The dude taking us through the new "string tied to tooth tied to door knob" method claimed his parents used it on all their kids. Anyone in their neighbourhood ever heard of something called "child abuse"! And finally one bloke's mom had successfully done some dental work on the family dog with a pair of pliers and thought she would save a couple of bucks by extending her plier action to family members. Pamela freaking Voorhees come on down!

Davison has his signature urban funk style music playing over the entire documentary, and I must say I was digging on down to the mainly drum orientated vibes coming out of my speakers. There's a whole kind of 1970s feeling to the score that went a long way in covering up some poor boom mike work.

In the wash up I rather enjoyed Tooth but think Davison needs to head back to the editing studio and cut out some sections. Probably a few reshoots wouldn't go a miss either as clearly the Director only had one camera onboard back when he made the documentary. Turning that frown upside down you now have a number of legitimate reasons for not visiting your dentist.

Tooth was included as an extract on the region 4 DVD release of Belief, at time of writing I have been unable to google up an online source for those wanting a free viewing. I am hoping to include links, or heck embed, short movies we cover but some will prove elusive. I'll update this page if I discover an online source in my wonderings round the net.

ScaryMinds Rates this short as ...

Not as painful as a tooth extraction.