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"A zombie is a small yellow flower",
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This review is from: Dogtooth [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Imagine you live in a world where cats are the most dangerous creature there is - you know so because you saw your father covered in blood as he came home one day to tell you that your estranged brother had been mauled to death by a moggy. Imagine that Frank Sinatra is your grandfather and that aeroplanes are really 6 inch long toys and often fall from the sky for children to play with. For three children living in a remote house this is their reality, forbidden to leave the house they grow and develop within the boundaries provided by their parents.
The film starts with the adult-aged children receiving a language lesson. You're immediately aware that there are strange goings on when you realise that they are being taught everyday words but with completely different meanings - "sea" for example is a leather armchair, and we later learn that "keyboard" means vagina. Accepting what they are told as gospel, it seems completely normal to them and they have no reason to question it. Having existed in such an environment all their lives you expect that it would impact on their behaviour beyond the level of their vocabulary and it does, their conversations are quite juvenile and the way they interact with each other and their parents is quite childish. They appear to be young adults who act like 9 year olds and their naivety is exploited by the only 'outsider' to regularly visit the house - Christina, who is brought in to satisfy the sexual urges of the male sibling. She tries to encourage the two girls to perform sexual acts on her by 'swapping' their services for presents - such as a sparkly headband. You'd expect the film to be incredibly dark and although the subject matter is often disturbing and sometimes uncomfortable to watch - the pleasant surroundings and the naturalistic performances make this feel more like a twisted version of the Brady Bunch. The parents motivations are never clear, particularly the father's, and instead of being portrayed as an evil brute he simply comes across as a man who has no grasp of reality and is trying to protect his children albeit in an incredibly misguided way.
The Blu-Ray transfer isn't great, there's graining throughout (which is probably from the source material) which probably can't be helped, and the level of detail is not much better than what you expect from DVD, this isn't a title to show of the capabilities of your new telly. The underwhelming picture quality doesn't matter quite-so-much as the stylish way it has been directed - the cinematography has quite an impact here. Dogtooth is full of shots which oddly framed, heads are cut off, or appear at the extreme edges of the screen like a badly taken photograph. It's something which enhances the overall creepiness of the film and It adds an element of 'hidden filming' as it makes it look as if some as if the cameras are hidden in fixed places. The disk contains no bonus features other than a trailer - and that makes the film look more comedic than it is. This has some moments of humour but it's certainly not a comedy, even if it does contain the most bizarre dance sequence since Napoleon Dynamite.
In a nutshell: Easily one of the strangest films I've watched for a while, but also incredibly accessible due to the realism and the simplicity of the performances. Memories of the mass-media coverage of the Josef Fritzl case adds a darker element to a film which is pretty dark anyway. It seems that the film has something to say but it's not exactly clear what the message is, for me it seems to demonstrate how authority can be abused when there's nothing there to challenge it. It's a thought provoking piece of cinema which stays with you long after you've watched it.