Review by Cassam Looch
COMING out of leftfield, this Greek drama manages to tread the fine line between fantasy and horror resulting in a genuinely believable nightmare.
Partly a modern family story, Dogtooth also has a subtle comedic streak which is as rich as you could hope to see. It all adds up to one of the finest films of the year, and something that will stay with you for a long time.
Three young adults have been brought up by their loving parents in the suburbs of a remote Greek town. The ‘children’ adhere to their parents rules, which unknown to them are completely alien to the rest of society.
Indeed, the kids have no idea what society is and have never been beyond the confines of their back garden… instead, they are beholden to the revisionist ideology of mother and father.
No one has a ‘name’ to speak of, and the family is sustained by ‘Fathers’ seemingly normal job in a factory, which he maintains to re-supply the household whilst mother ‘educates’ and keeps up the story.
To keep the natural urges in check, the family ‘employs’ a young co-worker at the factory to satisfy the son and keep his questions to a minimum… but the co-worker, although desperate for the money, is not as careful to block out the outside world.
It is a thoroughly unsettling premise which is cleverly brought to the boil by using identifiable pop culture references yet showing them through the prism of these isolated individuals.
It is a snowball effect, but one which finds resonance in this society as parents become more and more frightful of outside influences on their children.
We have no idea how it started, but the kids certainly know nothing of the outside world. The parents are superbly portrayed and despite some of the later dramatic clashes it is an earlier moment that stuck with me.
As the family begins to descend into chaos the Mother and Father have an argument. However, to ‘protect’ the children from this they only mouth their anger and anguish to one another… it’s a fantastic take on the world they have created, the end result of which is chillingly brilliant.
The tone and pitch are spot-on as we are allowed to explore this environment with the characters yet feel little need to pass judgement on them for the majority of the film. It will make you squirm in your seat at several points and feel very uncomfortable… but that is very much the point of it all.
An early highlight of 2010, Dogtooth is essential viewing if you fancy a break from the mainstream.
In Greek, with subtitles
Running time: 97mins
UK DVD Release: September 13, 2010