Kynodontas (Dogtooth) 2009 – D:Giorgos Lanthimos


I’ve only just finished watching Dogtooth and I’m not sure I’ve recovered. Being as I am unfamiliar with Greek cinema, I don’t know if this film is typically representative. For the sanity of the Greek people, I hope not. Not that the film was bad, it was in fact quite masterfully done. It was just, shall we say, a little weird.

Dogtooth opens a window on the bizarre and utterly disturbing world of three Greek teenagers and their seemingly sadistic parents. There is an uneasiness about their world right from the start as a woman rides blindfolded in a car to their house. We quickly discover this is a woman who has been transported in for the sole purpose of ‘servicing’ the sexual needs of the one male of the three teens. The silent and starkly unsexy coupling only adds to the sense of unease and this never lets up.

The parents, we find, have kept the teens in a walled fortress akin to an internment camp where even the language they have taught them is made up of safe names for dangerous concepts and vice versa (with Telephone for salt and Keyboard for genitals). The siblings have been cut off from the outside world completely, with frightening tales of unnamed dangers lurking outside the perimeter. When the woman from the outside brings shiny trinkets and video cassettes into the house, however, the tight ship begins to crumble. Hollywood’s glittering call leads the eldest daughter to an act of desperation in an attempt to escape.

There is a sparsity to Dogtooth. Little dialogue, little of the usual action, mostly incidental music and the constant chirp of crickets, leave the viewer with the impression of quiet insanity. Grey skies and drab concrete walls are dully in contrast to the violence and cold, unappealing sex on the inside. With all the main cast putting in brilliantly creepy, almost automaton emotionless performances, things can feel a little too real at times – and indeed even several of the sexual acts are exactly that.

Make no mistake, Dogtooth is not for the squeamish. Some of its frequent violence is quite disturbing and the sexual content is conceptually violent and immoral as well as explicit. If you can get past all of that, what you have is a meticulously crafted suburban gothic horror story. Empty spaces and bland set design put you right in the midst of the teenager’s isolation. As a whole, Dogtooth will leave you feeling as if you’ve been spying on your neighbours and got the shock of your life.

You can see Dogtooth playing at Revelation Perth International Film Festival on Friday, July 9th at 8:45pm and on Monday July 12th at 6:00pm.

A disturbing suburban dystopian horror… 4 Stars


~ by mfnm on June 25, 2010.

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