Dogtooth

This film, about three grown adults who are trapped in their parents’ house from early on, has a humor that was surprising to  me. At the very beginning, they play a tape where their mother is teaching them vocabulary. Several times she says words that are obviously wrong, but the kids who are listening to it don’t really mind. Instead they are too busy trying to think of a game where they can endure the most pain. This time around it is who can endure the most scalding hot water. Later on it is chloroform and blindfolds in the pool.

The dry humor continues throughout the film, even among blunt shows of violence by the father. One time, the son gets in trouble because he was throwing rocks over to his “brother.” He is forced to keep Listerine in his mouth for several moments. It is sort of evil, but at the same time Listerine, really? Later on in the film, one of the girls learns how to lick pussies (which is a big floor lamp according to the mother) in order to get presents. She receives a couple of movies and after watching them, she acts out scenes from Rocky, Jaws and finally Flashdance. All of these scenes are done with a seriousness that Wes Anderson could never pull off if given the same material.  This is why this film is infinitely funnier than Darjeeling Limited.

This film makes me feel bad for liking it. The manipulation that is evident from the very beginning gets worse as the film progresses. The son kills a kitten in the garden and the father told him he did right and that cats are the worst creatures in the world. They even eat children’s brains. The father then comes back after the “brother” who lives just beyond the bush becomes a problem and says that the “brother” is dead. He was killed by a cat. Cats will surely get them if they venture out of the complex. The parents also tell the children that if they don’t behave the mother will give birth to twins and they will have to share their rooms. There are several other examples of manipulation. These kids seem at first to swallow it whole, but the urge to get out of their situation is too strong. It slowly creeps into the unconscience of the kids, especially the oldest one. The urge to leave becomes unbearable for her that she finally does something that is seen by the viewer as really drastic but to her it is the natural progression of things.

The need to escape situations that are abusive seems to be something that you grow into. When you don’t know any better at first is natural, but eventually anyone can figure out that something is wrong. Even children who have never left a complex before and are taught that zombies are little flowers. This film does a good job of exploring the unconscious of the main characters, the children. Maybe I missed it, but I did not understand why the father and mother were so adamant about them staying inside and miseducating them. Maybe that made them even more malicious due to their lack of reason.

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