By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
If you haven’t noticed by now, we’re trying to cram in as many Oscar nominated flicks as possible before the big night of all the head-scratching nominations, this might be the most.It fits almost none of the criteria of things that Oscar voters like, even for foreign films.While that in itself is kind of an endorsement, Dogtooth is just bizarre.
Like this… with incest
We’ll get to that in a second.There are only six people we see in the entire film, five of which belong to a family that is just… wrong.Dad is the only one who can leave the large house and walled-in lawn, although Mom may be able- she just doesn’t seem to want to.
Their three teenage children have never left.They’ve been raised in a shifting world of deception and manipulation constructed by the father, although the mother is willingly complicit.This is where it gets weird.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos reminds me more than anything of Lars Von Trier.For both of them, the technical command and creative design are impressive and coupled with deep and highly original ideas.On the flip side, these ideas usually delve into the darkest, most fucked up side of humanity, accompanied by disturbing imagery and situations.For example, a kitten gets killed with garden shears.
This type of film is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll find yourself mulling it over for days, and that deserves a toast.
So, back to the plot.The father uses a variety of tactics to keep his children off-balance, isolated, and ‘good’.One of them is using a tape-recorder to teach “vocabulary” like ‘roadtrip’, which is a durable material used to make floors (The chandelier was not smashed when it hit the floor, because it is made of 100% roadtrip).
The teens are not to leave the compound until their ‘dogtooth’ falls out, and can’t use the only safe way to do it, the family car, until it grows back.Outside the compound is a world full of murderous cats and a few mystifying people like our final character, the security guard/prostitute from Dad’s factory that he brings home to have sex with his son.When she starts playing the apple-dropping serpent, Dad’s carefully constructed Eden and the teens’ innocence begin to unravel.
Eventually, the dialogue starts to unhinge.At first, the conversations with no reference point were intriguing windows into a mysterious situation.When you start to figure things out and the random crackpot utterances continue, it becomes less cute.
Remember the deal about incest?Yeah, there’s several different flavors in this one.I understand the plot necessity and the intriguing contrast between the teens’ manufactured innocence and the father’s depravity.We just don’t need so much of it.At some point, this crosses the line of exploitation… and this is when you start drinking to forget.
I can’t in good conscience recommend this film to everyone, but if you want a challenge and can handle some disturbing content, this one will stick with you.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever somebody says ‘cat’ or ‘dog’
Take a Drink: whenever somebody’s wearing a swimsuit
Drink a Shot: for each act of incest