Oscars Death Race: Dogtooth

Inspired by Tomato Nation and my own inner stupid overachieving pop culture glutton, I’m once again attempting to see all 2011 Oscar nominated films before the ceremony. Here’s how it’s going so far.

I chose Dogtooth as the first official Death Race movie this year. And I chose wrong.

I really have to start doing more research before I just plunge into these things. All I knew about Dogtooth was from its IMDb synopsis, which promises things like sex, controlling parents and rebellion. I also noted the word “HILARIOUS!” on the cover. I settled in yesterday for a quirky family romp.

What I got was the creepy spawn of Law & Order: SVU and The Royal Tenenbaums.

Just about everything about this film is unsettling: its stunted, baby-like teen characters; the way it’s shot, which essentially beheads all characters in the opening scenes; and, yes, the story itself. There’s lying and violence and rape, and all kinds of other side effects of utter seclusion from the world, and it is all so very depressing. I got the impression that I wasn’t supposed to take the things happening on screen as seriously as I was. And yes, there were a few moments that made me want to laugh. But against the backdrop of dysfunction and abuse, they certainly weren’t “hilarious” moments. They were heart-wrenching.

An interesting premise, for sure. But the way it plays out in Dogtooth is just so painful to watch.

Death Race Tally: 6 seen, 50 to go.


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