Dogtooth (Greece, 2009)

My movie score: 4 (out of 5)    Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Dogtooth is probably the first Greek movie I’ve ever watched, and although there is nothing particularly Greek about it, the sound of an unfamiliar language adds additional layer of oddity to it. Not that there isn’t enough oddity in the movie as it is.

Ever since they were born, three teenagers are confined by their uber-controlling parents to their secluded villa. Everything they believe about the world is filtered and carefully constructed by the parents. In this garden of Eden, the siblings are taught, among other things, that cats are dangerous predators, and so to protect themselves against a possible attack they take up special training. Everyday they learn new words by listening to tapes prepared by the father. They learn that “shotgun” is a beautiful white bird, and “roadtrip” is highly durable material.

Their only connection to the outside world is a young woman that is brought from time to time by the father to satisfy the sexual needs of the son. She smuggles them a video cassette of a horror movie. When the teens ask their mother what a “zombie” is, surprised and alarmed, she answers that it’s a small yellow flower.

By constructing this human laboratory with its own strange laws and customs, the movie not only bewilders and shocks, it also leaves plenty room for humor. When the son shouts “Look, I found a zombie!”, you are bound to crack.

So what is this movie really about? About the neurosis of overprotective parenting and the disturbing aspects of homeschooling ? Idiosyncrasies of totalitarian regimes? Or maybe about the indoctrination every culture subjects its subordinates to?

I’m still not sure. But what I’m sure of, is that you won’t be able to forget the movie or write it off too easily.

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