Saturday, June 12, 2010

On-Demand: Danny Dyer in zombie romp DOGHOUSE from Jake West/Dan Schaffer

The war between men and women takes a new and decidedly misogynistic leap forward (or backward, depending on your view) with the new zombie movie DOGHOUSE (as in, woman to man, "You're in the dog-
house now, buddy!"). It is hard not to agree that these guys ought to be exactly there, next to Fido. A dumber, more clueless bunch of male morons would be difficult to find. Fortunately, these guys are funny, too -- once you get past some initial difficulty understanding the dialog (this film could use English subtitles for the Brit-vernacular-impaired).

The heavy-duty accents do finally become more understandable. They seem to grow on you, as do the men and their movie. Written by newcomer to film Dan Schaffer and directed by the nearly old-timer Jake West (shown at left), the film makes it clear from the start that these meathead misogynists need upending. And, lord, do they get it. On a supposed "male retreat" during which they want to reconnect with their masculinity -- as though they were ever for a moment disconnected from it -- in one of those homey little British towns (below) of which a modern Miss Marple might approve, our crew comes upon something extremely disturbing that allows them to give vent to every misogynist thought, word and deed you could possibly imagine.

This situation is a double-, maybe even triple-edged sword. Because, while we can enjoy the blood and guts provided by this sort of film, seeing it done only by men to women, creates a constant provocation, even though, plot-wise, this is something that simply must be done.  If the men were not so funny and idiotically macho (the always amusing and naughty Danny Dyer, below, is leader of the pack), this would be difficult for all but the most die-hard woman-haters to handle. And just when it seems that misogyny has won, the filmmakers come up with a priceless finale that, I suspect, will leave both men and women (if any of the latter are still watching) amused and provoked in equal proportion.

Unlike last year's better -- and far creepier -- Deadgirl, Doghouse is a spoof and so exhibits all or most of its genre's requirements.  The film's "monsters" come from all walks of life (this makes for some fun), and in all ages and boob sizes (which actually gives some of our men some very funny second thoughts).  The mostly male cast is quite game (only one woman has a major role that requires life-like acting), but it's the make-up department and its artists that deserves some sort of joint award for their combined efforts here.

West and his cinematographer Ali Asad put their widescreen video compositions to pretty good use: Yes, gore is often first and foremost but there are also some smart shots scattered along the way (see below). For those of us who keep asking for better reanimations of the zombie genre, this little film, in its own clever/nasty way, delivers (some of) the goods.

Doghouse, from IFC's Festival Direct On-Demand service, began its run this past Wednesday, June 9, as part of the continuing IFC Midnight series and should be available for the next several months.  Click here to determine if -- and how -- you can get it.

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