Yorgos Lanthimos's Dogtooth may be best described as a glimpse of hell. Its' vision of systematic child abuse is simple and striking. In the world created by deeply insecure parents, a cat (which, happily for me, meets a gruesome demise) is a deadly beast and commercial jets can easily fall from the sky, shrinking to the size of a toy one should covet. The confines of a large estate are all that keeps the ignorant kids safe from the numerous dangers of the outside terrain.
We're left to guess and my guess is that the dad is ultimately the mastermind of the nightmare. Mom is totally in favor, I'm sure, because it's a way to keep the kids around indefinitely. She gets visibly upset after certain incidents of physical trauma brought on the kids by either Dad or themselves. Nothing seems to phase Dad except the unravelling of his evil plan.
The kids look to be in their mid-late 20s. The two girls are older than the boy. To pass time, they often devise physically dangerous challenges, I'm sure as a way of awakening what might feel dead in their innocent souls. Dad hires a woman to relieve his virile son, every week, of the nasty testosterone that may aid in an unexpected mutiny.
This dark tale is mostly filmed during mid-day, taking full advantage of the piercing, natural light by which Greece is blessed. Most of the clothes worn by the kids are made (handmade?) of plain, white linen. The high walls of the compound are only shown a dozen or so times. A tricky illusion is created by how positive, if not stark, the rest of the atmosphere around the house is. Who wouldn't want a large pool in which to dip everyday?
If horrifying his audience was Lanthimos's goal, he's certainly succeeded. I don't get the feeling that Dogtooth is merely an exercise in horror as it is cause and effect. But if it's cause and effect he wanted to explore, the scenario he presents relies too much on suspension of disbelief. Many holes can be poked in what particulars he's given us to consider. The films' ambitions are ultimately as shaky as the family's psyche.
The Verdict: 3 Bedpans