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MOVIE REVIEW: Dogtooth

An incredibly disturbing family story

Dogtooth: Rates a D+.
Courtesy photo

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 Shyamalan’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 afterward.

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). 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.”

There were only two other people in the theater, and they left at the half-way point; they'd 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 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.

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+.