I love me some weird psychological mind warping films. Dogtooth definitely didn’t disappoint.
Dogtooth is about a unique family; one that believes eating your greens is extremely important. So is incest… and clipping your Dad’s toenails….and not having any contact with the outside world. The film is somewhat similar to M. Knight Shyamalan’s, “The Village“, but in my opinion, much better.
The story is about a family who lives on a pretty nice compound with a home, a pool, 2 teenage girls, 1 teenage boy, 1 Dad and 1 Mom. Thing is…no one but the Dad is allowed off of the compound and he’s brainwashed his entire family to live in this suburban version of hell. The kids are told they can’t leave the compound until their dogtooth falls out (which it won’t), and they can’t leave the compound until they learn to drive, but they can’t learn to drive until their dogtooth grows back. Yah, it doesn’t make sense to me. But, to these kids, it makes perfect sense.
They do not want to leave, for they have spent numerous years being told the horrors that befall those who leave the house too early. The “dogtooth” represents the human psyche, in my opinion. It also represents how the film focuses on a ridiculous method (but effective), on how to control individuals; especially your family.
Every day the kids are taught a new, unique language. For example, a water glass is called a “tree” and a chair is called the “sea”. If there is ever something the parents need to explain away, they call it something completely different, define it for the children, and use any means to reinforce the system. The parents have made it so their kids cannot survive in the world AT ALL unless they live on the compound. The house is very plain, white, and there is very little entertainment beyond the swimming pool. The Dad rules the roost, but the mother goes along with it like some creepy, emotionless statue. They install fear into them by saying a domesticated cat is really the enemy and must be destroyed. The Dad teaches the family to bark in order to keep the cats at bay. Planes that fly overhead are really toys- and if one lands in the grass- they can try and go get it like a really bad version of an Easter egg hunt.
The teenage boy has needs, so Dad brings home the female security guard about once per week. The security guard represents the hole in which items from the outside world leak to the kids like VHS tapes of ”Jaws” and “Rocky”. One small hole starts to plague the family and sexual desire spreads like a disease. The eldest female starts mimicing and reciting lines, which sparks the father to flip out and beat her over he head with the VHS tape. I really don’t want to give away anymore than I already have. Just rent the movie and you’ll never be the same again. Be prepared for some geniuine bonding time between brother and sister. By bonding I mean incest. Hey, what else are you going to do while in a canoe towards suicide falls?
The film really does a good job of bringing you in because you want to see how this is going to play out, how warped the kids are going to become, and if they will ever escape. The acting was phenomenal…the way they played these characters with plain, stringy hair and an inability to compare themselves to anything but their siblings- was awesome. The fact that these teenagers played together like they were five was definitely something I think they had to really work out on set. It may sound easy but it was authentic, dark, satirical and delicious. I especially liked the scene where the two daughters play a game of “who can wake up first” after dousing their faces with cloths full of heavy antiseptic. They have no reason to know or believe they are different or in a dangerous situation…. yet the games they ended up playing with each other were surrounded by life and death themes. For that reason, the film really flowed and gave a much more cohesive moral argument and ending.
Here are the actors in real life: much more normal!!!