Film Reviews:

The Dentist

(Brian Yuzna, US, 1996)

"I am an instrument of perfection and hygiene - the enemy of decay and corruption. A dentist", says opera-loving Dr Alan Feinstone, the perfect dentist. His successful surgery in a swish part of town has all the best clientele happy and his work has made him a wealthy man, providing him with money to spend on his luxurious lifestyle, home and beautiful, devoted wife Brooke. Or so he thought. But behind the clean white surface of day to day life lies the stench of decay, and decay can only lead to rot, filth and corruption. Despite his earnings Dr Feinstone isn't too good with his tax returns and a guy from the IRS starts to pester him for a meeting to resolve the problem before it is too late. The good doctor returns home early one day and happens to come across his wife having sex with the pool man. Suddenly everything is going wrong and the dentist starts missing his bookings and when he does make them, he makes mistakes like he never did before. The pressure builds relentlessly on the doctor and he suddenly snaps. He decides to kill the pool man and punish his wife as only a loopy dentist could.

Director Brian Yuzna is back again and he continues to probe the themes that are present in all his films, namely the dark and dirty that lies just below the clean, white picket fence surface. Once more he turns the middle classes on their heads and delivers an outrageous film - part black comedy, part tense drama. Imagine the dentist scene from Marathon Man twisted into an unhinged Beverley Hills setting that breaks open to reveal dental destruction on an unparalleled scale - then keep it up for an hour and a half - that's The Dentist. There are several very nasty moments featuring drills and needles as the tooth man turns his plush surgery into a sick torture chamber where teeth and tongues get visibly less than first class treatment! The humour is dark and not played up, often one could be fooled into thinking one was watching a real-life crime drama thanks to the convincing performances, most notably Corbin Bernsen as Dr Feinstone. But then Yuzna really goes for the jugular with perfectly horrible scenes of graphic dental destruction. Alan Howarth provides an occasionally classy soundtrack that contains a liberal sprinkling of opera - thrown in to provide a suitably theatrical contrast to the explicit visuals. Anyone with a fear of dentists will find this absolutely terrifying and I defy anyone who sees it not to wince once.

Rob Dyer