27th May2020

‘Return of the Tooth Fairy’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Jake Watkins, Katie McKenna, Chelsea Greenwood, AJ Blackwell, Venetia Cook, Gus Fithen, Simon Manley, Niru Sukanthan | Written by Tom Jolliffe | Directed by Louisa Warren

Ah, the joy of sequels. And the laws of diminishing returns… Dear god if that’s true I don’t know how the hell I’m going to get through Return of the Tooth Fairy. After all the original film, which we reviewed back in March, was pretty bad – even for low-budget British filmmaking. And it’s certainly not a shining light in the output of Champ Dog Films who have been making inroads into the UK genre scene for some time now often times overcoming shortcomings, be they budget, production values or performances, to create genre fare worthy of carry the tag of “Great British Horror”. They’ve also managed to strike up quite the deal with US distributors, finding success on the shelves of Walmart’s across the States. Which is how we’ve come to this… a sequel to Tooth Fairy.

The original film seemingly sold more, and well enough, on it’s cover art alone rather than word of mouth, because that word of mouth surely wasn’t too great. The reviews certainly weren’t. Which means that Return of the Tooth Fairy doesn’t really have to achieve that much to easily outshine its predecessor. Thankfully it does outshine it, it outshines that first film a LOT. Unfortunately, to truly grasp what’s happening here, you really do need to have sat through the first film – even with the brief flashbacks and snippets of exposition from the cast of characters here. Without it there’s a lack of context and depth to what occurs in this sequel – motivations seem too shallow here without that deeper knowledge of what took place in Tooth Fairy.

Return of the Tooth Fairy is set 20 years (NOT the 15 it states in the press materials/synopsis) after the event of the original film and Corey (Jake Watkins), a survivor the the tooth fairy massacre is now grown up and seemingly suffering from PTSD. I say seemingly as, at first, we’re never really sure whether Corey is seeing and hearing things or if the titular monster is actually back. However even with his “issues” Corey decides to take up the offer to go on a college reunion at an old farmhouse; only the offer isn’t as innocent as Corey thinks.

You see one of Corey’s college buddies, Paul (A J Blackwell), has an ulterior motive for inviting everyone to the farm. As a child, Pauls’ cousin was murdered by the “tooth fairy” and Paul has always been suspicious about Corey having been the only survivor of the killers rampage and jealous that he lived when his cousin died. So what’s a vengeful guy to do? Well, manipulate the situation to prank Corey and get whatever “truth” he can out of him… But Paul should probably have avoided a) using an incantation book to raise the spirit of the tooth fairy and b) prank someone who – it turns out – is still haunted by his memories of the tooth fairy!

And I use the term haunted in two ways. One, Corey is still suffering from the trauma of the original tooth fairy massacre; and two, he might LITERALLY be haunted by the spirit of the tooth fairy and his hallucinations are all too real! Thankfully, for a lot of Return of the Tooth Fairy‘s running time the film plays the “truth” of Corey and the tooth fairy close to its chest. After all we’ve got a costume hanging around thanks to Paul’s prank, so it could be anyone inside it – not necessarily Corey, it could be one of his college friends either trying to defend him, or make him liable for all the deaths. It could be a deranged Corey, pushed over the edge by Paul’s prank – we’ve seen that before in horror cinema and Warren’s film plays very much with that trope of survivor turned killer through out the film. Hey, it could even be the tooth fairy back from the first film to kill again.

We’re not EXPLICITLY told what’s real and what’s not, even with the appearance of THAT new character at the end and what should be confirmation of the truth. Even with that “reveal” and the addition of new character to the pantheon of the tooth fairy franchise, along comes the epilogue to make you rethink everything again! Oh, and to set up what looks to be a third film in the series. Though if Champ Dog Films do go ahead with a part three it would probably be wise to try and find a better cast. Whilst there are massive improvements in production in Return of the Tooth Fairy – at least compared to the first film in the series – the movie is ultimately let down by the performances of the majority of the cast. I say majority as, like a lot of Champ Dog Films’ output, they have found a cracking female lead (if there’s one thing Champ Dog Films do well it’s cast female roles) in actress Katie McKenna, making her feature film debut. Her performance stood out head and shoulders above the rest of the cast and, when paired with the films lead Corey (Watkins) outshone him at each and every turn. More from her if we get a part three too! I’d love to see her as the Nancy (NOES) of this franchise, leading the charge against the demonic Tooth Fairy!

In the end, by relying on a few more classic tropes of the genre and making the titular character much more of a supernatural boogeyman rather than the “serial killer” conceit originally hinted at throughout both films, Return of the Tooth Fairy is definite improvement over the original in each and every way.

Return of the Tooth Fairy is set for a UK DVD release on June 15th, courtesy of High Fliers Films.

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