Some (including iTunes and IMDB) have billed Dogtooth, from greek director Giorgo Lanthimos, as either ‘dark comedy’ or comedy/drama. This irks me.

Dogtooth is not to be laughed at. This film, from the minds of Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, is modern psycho-social horror at its most disturbing.

Three young adult children have spent their entire lives sheltered from the outside world by dominating parents. Only the father leaves the safe compound of their home, surrounded by a high wall and a gate always locked. Modern vocabulary has been taught to the children with alternative meanings (thus, ‘the sea’ is a leather armchair, ‘zombies’ are small yellow flowers, and ‘the cat’ is the most ferocious, deadly creature known to exist). To satiate the son’s post-teen sexual urges, the only visitor to the house, and the only named character throughout, Christina is brought in by her boss, the father, to engage in sex that was less entertaining than watching paint dry.

The three children, elder and youngest daughter, and the boy, engage in ever more violent, sadistic snipes at each other, not for any reason other than they are bored and know no better.

Christina inadvertently sets in motion the ultimate downfall of the family’s strict regime, bringing with her small traces of repressed sexuality and the outside world.

Small, intermittent bouts of violence, sex, and humour are combined throughout the film to portray a deeply wrong, twisted reality. This film does not terrify so much as disturb you on a base, core level. You cannot look away, not through suspense, but from an unnerving sense of dread and utter sadness. The ending is as ambiguous as it is profound.

If you have a taste for desolate horror, this is for you. There is some gore, sex, nudity enough to keep teenage boys interested. But it is the overall Brechtian edge of the film that sets this apart from modern horrors full of bloody demises and creepy goings on. This is the depiction of the depravity of the human soul, brought to its knees merely by wanting to do ‘what’s best’.

If you have not yet seen this movie, I highly recommend you do so. You will laugh. And then you will immediately check yourself and grimace for doing so.

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