Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Horror Film Review

Doghouse (2009):  Zombie flick!  From Britain!  And it's funny as all get out.  The obvious comparison is to Shaun of the Dead and I think it's just about, but not quite as good.  Still...there are things in this film you need to see to believe.  Like the finger-food scene.  It's just all kinds of wrong.

A group of six guys, all misogynistic scum, decide to head to the small town of Moodley for a weekend of drunken revelry to cheer up buddy Vince (Stephen Graham) whose wife has filed for divorce.  Informal leader Neil (Danny Dyer) is a womanizer that makes Sam Malone seem shy.  The plan is to stay at Mikey's (Noah Clarke of Doctor Who fame) grandma's house since she's on a cruise.  Matt (Lee Ingleby) runs a comic book store and is the obligatory geek.  Golfer Patrick (Keith-Lee Castle) listens to relaxation seminars on his iPod.  Graham (Emil Marwa) is the token gay friend who, to his credit, does not follow the stereotype.  The seventh member of this eclectic troupe, Banksy (Neil Maskell), has car trouble and misses the bus.  Don't worry, he shows up later, but really wishes he'd stayed home.

So the guys rent a small bus with driver Ruth (Christina Cole), a looker who Neil insists on calling Candy.  They reach the town only to find that Mikey had overstated the potential hedonism it offers.  It's small and apparently deserted.  Then bloodthirsty zombie women start pouring out of the woodwork.  Each is a very distinct character.  There's a hairdresser with two pairs of crazy-big scissors, a witchcraft shop owner with a huge sword, and old woman with a walker, a nun, etc, etc.  The guys run into a military guy and find out an experimental virus that affects only women was tested on the town.  Yeah, the irony is about as subtle as an anvil falling on your head.  Anyway, the rest of the film is a series of humorous adventures as they try to escape.  But as with Shaun of the Dead, that humor is tempered with losses that aren't terribly funny.  Surprisingly, though, only three of the seven don't survive.  That's got to be a record for a zombie flick.

As I've said, this film is quite funny in that particular way only the Brits can pull off.  However, something about it bugs me that I'm having trouble articulating.  It's like...the women are just a shade too campy, and the most sexist of the men gets off too easy.  At the very least, you'd think the surviving men would have learned some kind of lesson.  Oh my goodness, no.  Doghouse misses the chance to inject the necessary comeuppance that would have made the film much more satisfying.

The Breakdown

Acting:  It's not exactly Shakespeare, mind you, yet the players here do make the roles their own with largely positive results.  A snarky Danny Dyer is great fun to watch.
Story:  A morality tale that leaves out the moral.  That said, the zombie side of the plot is nothing new.  Although I think the fact that the zombies can use weapons might be. 
Direction:  It does sag and wander in the middle, but director Jake West manages to pull it back together. 
Production Values:  Make no mistake, this is a low-rent affair.  Yet you'll be hard-pressed to find a specific example to prove it. 
Gore/FX:  Dear me, yes.  Lots of icky nastiness.  The finger-food scene is particularly..."ew!"-inducing.  You want more details, don't you?  Well, I'll set it up:  a very obese woman in a nightgown sitting at her dining room table on which sits a birthday cake with severed fingers instead of candles, and the woman works on the fingers as if they're lollipops while grunting longingly at Danny, who is tied to a chair opposite her.  Then it gets gross.  As for FX...the gore is impressive in its quality and so is the blood and fire.  No CGI that I could tell (a good thing).
The Ending:  Sort of Butch and Sundance but with hope. 
The Verdict:  Should you see Doghouse?  It's a must for zombie fans and highly recommended for horror fans.  If you liked Shaun of the Dead or Vampire Killers, you should like this.  One suggestion for you straight male fans:  don't watch it with your wife/girlfriend.  Why?  Because if you laugh even once, chances are you'll be the one in the doghouse.

My Rating4 out of 5 stars.

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