Dogtooth (2009)

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A highly disturbing, weird piece of Greek cinematic art. It comes across as some magnificent horrific representation of a car crash, you just can’t look away if you wish to.

The story is about a family, the mother and father keep their three children locked away from the outside world, the pool and a garden are the only freedom they have. Words are taught to them as meaning things they don’t really mean and the two daughters and one son compete against each other to win choices of entertainment all the while believing they have another brother just on the other side of the garden hedge. It’s disturbing storytelling that leaves you wondering what you’re even watching but somehow it’s enchantingly bizarre and you can’t help but carry on to find out what happens.

The camera shots for a start make you realise this is going to be a different style of filmmaking. As conversations occur we linger on one person instead of the usual two-way conversations or a shot stays static on close ups of socks for example. This links well in the mundane talks that the characters initiate. From the outset we hear the sisters and brother discussing a game of holding fingers under hot water and then there’s conversations about skirts, stickers and favourite food. It’s all odd and bland making you realise there’s something dark lying under the surface with these adult children.

The only outer influence is a security guard called Christine who is called in to perform sexual tasks for the son. Even she is blindfolded as she’s driven to the house making you understand this is a location that only the parents truly know about, a disturbing factor of power. The sex itself is highly uncomfortable and stiff, both undress and have sex like robots, just another sign from the beginning that something isn’t right here. It’s like they’re being watch, like everyone is being controlled.

The parents are intimidating without even doing or saying much, to be honest they hardly appear compared to the children but it’s evident that their games have taken full effect on them and the three of them couldn’t be more affected by this. They think small yellow flowers are zombies and that once their ‘dogtooth’ comes out they are free to leave. There’s just insanely strange things throughout this movie from all of them pretending to be dogs to the eldest sister performing a dance for her parents anniversary.

The weirdest thing about this is how extremely shocking it all is, I truly wasn’t expecting some of the nasty stuff that happened within. The sound effects that coincide with some of the actions really got my skin crawling and I felt the pain. I won’t say what happens just so not to spoil it but suffice to say how the image of the poster above comes about is just one of the causes for near squirming.

I can positively say this film won’t be for all, it wasn’t for me. I’m still thinking it’s the weirdest movie I’ve seen in a long time, but you can’t deny it’s strengths in creating something altogether different and powerful. The acting is fantastic in making you believe this children are trapped and benignly going through this set up life/game of theirs. The dad is assured and dominating and makes you fear VHS more than you’d think possible. It all looks strange yet beautiful which adds even more to the uncomfort of the piece.

It’s brutal yet satirical on society, it’s interesting yet baffling. It’s a weird film that keeps you watching and even though you can’t enjoy it you can certainly admire it’s message and realise the genius of the horror trickling through the cracks of this family portrait.

8/10

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