Dogtooth

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dogtooth

The most disturbing movie of the year.

A family that plays together….

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

This dark film gives new meaning to Greek Tragedy.

This is the movie that would’ve been made if Todd Solondz and Roman Polanski worked on M. Night’s The Village script.

I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone, because it’s so disturbing in so many ways. That being said, I enjoyed the first half of it.

It has the most interesting Rocky Balboa impersonation ever.

It had the best cat scene ever. How could you not love a 20-year-old boy stalking a cat in the backyard with hedge trimmers, and stabbing it to death? Aside from the disturbing cat sounds, we see the bloody thing afterwards.

One of the things I liked is that many of the bizarre things are explained later.

We find out the dad has convinced his three kids that giant cats will eat them if they try to leave the house (at least it’s a nice, big country estate and not just some double-wide in Santee).

When the movie opens with them learning words, but the wrong definitions to them – we get a little insight into why that happens later in the movie.

Oh, I almost forgot – the best use of a Sinatra song ever. The father (played well by Christos Stergioglou) sits by the record player translating the lyrics. He wants the kids to think their “grandfather” is singing about how you must love your parents and be obedient to them (it helps that they don’t know English; if they did, I’m guessing he would’ve used Louie Louie by The Kingsmen).

I thought the minimalism worked wonderfully for this film.

It’s a very original piece of work (some would say piece of something else). And it’s the perfect movie to see with friends. My buddy and I were both moved by the very powerful scenes and other times, made jokes about what was happening on screen.

When the kids come up with a game in which they’ll see who leaves their hand longest under hot water from the sink, I leaned over and said “The father really needs to buy these kids Parcheesi or something.”

The children aren’t allowed to watch TV, listen to the radio, talk on phones, or interact with anyone but the family. When one of the kids hears the word “pussy” from a woman hired to service the 20-year-old, the parents immediately tell them that word means “light switch.”

I told my friend, “Had I known that, when my mom asked me why I always turned the light switches off and on, I would’ve had a better answer.”

There were only two people in the theatre with us and they left at the half-way point (not because we were talking; they had had enough).

There are some very graphic sex scenes that eventually include one with a brother and sister (after the father fears bringing a woman in for the son exposes them to bad influences).

Christos Stergioglou was in the movie A Dog’s Dream five years ago. This is a dog’s nightmare. Well, maybe not. The dog is the only creature in this movie that got out of the house.

There was some interesting stuff going on here. For example, the kids see airplanes fly overhead and often talk about hoping they’ll fall to the ground. It seems odd early on, but when the parents later throw a toy airplane over the bushes after one flew by – they all scramble for the new toy.

There are dark scenes that I felt guilty laughing at. When Stergioglou asks a daughter to bring him the duct tape, you know that’s a request that can’t be good.

He ends up taping the videos she got into the house (Rocky and Jaws), and tapes them to his hand. He looks at his hand for a few seconds, before bashing her over the head repeatedly.

Another scene that shocked me, but also elicited laughter, was a dance routine during the parents anniversary. You thought Elaine danced bad on Seinfeld.

The scene was painful, powerful, and very interesting to watch.

My friend was mad that things were never explained. He wanted to know why the father made his kids bark like dogs and do weird contests, and handed out stickers like they were 8-year-olds winning a spelling bee. I had no problem with those things not being answered. The guy was a nut job. What answer could be provided that would satisfy my friend?

My problem was that the story meanders, it wasn’t as interesting as it could’ve been, and it felt like it was 45 minutes longer than it was (the film was just over an hour and a half).

I wanted this interesting, sick story to be hashed out and flow a little better.

I also thought, in the context of the story, there were flaws.

This man is so careful to not expose his kids to the outside world, and to scare them into not wanting to leave the house – that he at one time puts fake blood on himself, cuts up his clothes – and tells them a huge cat attacked him and killed their brother (this is the fictional brother the dad said lived on the other side of the fence, as punishment for being disobedient). Yet, I wondered why the dad was cutting up his clothes and preparing this charade right outside the house, where a kid peeking through the fence might see.

And a security guard at his work, who he pays to have sex with his son, is blind folded as she’s driven to his house. He makes sure she’s showered and well paid for her services, and he escorts her to the boys room. This continues on for some time, yet the girl is able to wander around the living room and talk to the two sisters. This enables her to inadvertently teach them knew words, and even exploit them sexually for things she has in her purse.

Where are these two strict parents while this is happening? And if they are careful to blindfold her, how hard would it be for the father to insist she keep the purse in the car? Who knows what she could have in the purse – a cell phone, candy, radio, drugs, etc.

After the cat was killed, I immediately thought about the Hogan family that lived on our street growing up. They had many kids, and were really religious. The father was strict, and would beat his kids. They also had to say “yes sir” and “no ma’am” to the parents after every sentence. They also prayed several times a day.

He killed cats that came in his yard (he told the neighbors he was allergic, and said he’d kill them; it wasn’t that he believed they ate humans). This got his house vandalized one time from an angry cat owner.

My friend leaned over half way through the movie and said “This is a lot like how Scientology probably got started.”

And that made me think that had the script been fleshed out a bit, and a better story written – it would’ve been a lot more interesting.

Critics being the insane lot that they are – all rave about this. It’s getting 92% on Rotten Tomatoes (to put that into perspective – Black Swan is getting 88% good reviews, Inception got 86%).

Just because a film is original or has some abstract-artistic flare, doesn’t mean you disregard all of its flaws or lack of a decent screenplay.

I’m not sure if that baffles me more than the non-critics, who like dreck.

Country Strong (which I hated), is getting 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet four “regular” people in the U-T all loved it and recommended it. Two people I know saw it and liked it.

At first, I didn’t care for the ending of Dogtooth (I won’t give it away). As I walked to my car thinking about it, I ended up loving the ending. I just wished the rest of the movie had been as good as those moments I enjoyed.

Although I anticipated the scene that occurred with the “dogtooth” it was so much more powerful than I could’ve imagined.

I saw the movie a few days ago, and haven’t stopped thinking about it. It’s not often movies have that affect.

I just can’t recommend it to anybody. Oh, maybe I’ll tell my mom about it. She said she couldn’t sleep for weeks after seeing The Exorcist. I can almost guarantee that would be the same with this movie.

It shows signs of brilliance, but at the end of the day, it’s for the dogs. I’m giving it a D+.