Dogtooth (2009) is a Greek movie about a strange family where the parents create an alternate universe full of danger and mystery to confine their teenage (at least) children and control their exposure to modern life.
The movie is fully of amazingly clever premises: teaching children through the Naughty Hungarian Phrase Book technique to hide the meaning of any difficult (and many random) words; terrifying them of the world outside the estate walls with tales of terror and a lost brother (to whom they throw food and other things); the horrible terror that cats pose, ripping the unwary apart; that airplanes are actually very small and plastic and now and then when they fly over head just drop into the yard to be found by the winning child; and contests to decide the best of the children at every turn.
And then there’s the woman who is paid to have sex with the son and manage his urges who seduces the sisters and pays them with knicknacks from the outside world they treasure. And the porn she brings for the father to watch with his wife after the children are asleep, that ultimately goes astray. And lastly, the title, which refers to the K9 tooth, the adult one, which is the indicator of adulthood when it comes out.
There is so much promise in this movie that could have been a real pleasure to watch, could have been hilarious or disturbing. But it just wasn’t. It was slow and stilted and clumsy. The pacing was brutal and ultimately tedious and drained the humor out of the most absurd situations – like where the father released live fish in the pool as some sort of miracle and then went to catch them for dinner with a spear gun that should have had the audience laughing but were drained of life by the pacing and structure.
This movie was particularly difficult, not so much for what it was but for how great it almost was.