29 November 2010


*** (3 stars)

"Alright, calm down... You sound like a dolphin"

I watched "Doghouse" on the recommendation from my friend who is equally obsessed with horror. We go back and forth sending trailers and posting articles about the latest, greatest, and missed treasures of gore and fright.

Doghouse follows a group of longtime friends out to cheer up their buddy following his divorce, and they only have one thing on their minds- birds (women). Well, maybe it will be nice to get away from their own nagging spouses too. On the suggestion of Mikey (Noel Clarke, "Centurion", "Doctor Who"), they travel to Moodly where his gran lives and the population is 4:1 ladies. Win-win, right? Wrong. All of the women have been turned into zombies with a craving for male blood and guts. Can the happy bachelor gang get out alive? Will any of them "score"? Will you care?

Director Jake West specializes in what I would call "B-horror, slapstick". His movies don't seem to try to be anything that they're not- bloody, gory, and void of plot or sense. His best know work may be "Razor Blade Smile" about a vampiress out for revenge against the Illuminati, or his addition to the "Pumpkinhead" idiom; the made for TV "Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes". Armed with this knowledge, I probably would have ignored my buddies advice, but the cast was too interesting to pass up. What were these guys doing in this movie?

The macho male crew is rounded out by leader and self proclaimed playboy Neil (Danny Dyer, "Human Traffic", "Malice in Wonderland"), the recent divorcé Vince (Stephen Graham, "Boardwalk Empire"-he's amazing!, "Public Enemies"), comic geek Matt (Lee Ingleby, "The Last Legion"), recent zen convert Patrick (Keith-Lee Castle, "Seed of Chucky"), the requisite homosexual Graham (Emil Marwa, "East is East"), and slacker Banksy (Neil Maskell). They're driven to the country by Christina Cole ("Hex") whom they immediately dub "Candy". Eventually, the guys run into an Army guy (Terry Stone) trying his best to kill the "zombirds" and redeem himself in the role he played in their creation.

If I were not a woman, or had the ability to completely check my brain at the door, I may have liked this movie more. Unfortunately, all I could think about was how misogynistic the men were (no wonder their women hate them), and how I wished they would die. The story lags about, not quite sure if it's a comedy or just a B-movie. Women are harlots and zombies hell bent on destroying/pacifying a man and men are the lonely victims to their plans. Please.

The opening scenes of the movie rip off British gangster movies with each character being introduced to us through the misdeeds they do to their significant others, then freeze frame and animate to reveal their names. Guy Ritchie doesn't even do that anymore people! Move on! Cole is completely underused and I kept wondering why she was even in this movie. Has life been that bad for you girl? Your IMDB page tells a different story. The idiocy surrounding them only makes it the more amazing that any may actually survive. How hard is to to lure a zombie out of a van and then get in it? Just run around in a circle people. Why run off into no man's land? Pun intended.

My feelings on the movie were actually heightened after watching the making of featurette, an in dept look at production, cast interviews, post production, and FX. "Doghouse" was shot with the Red HD Digital Camera, which fuses the best of film and digital filming into one camera without any of the negatives. The Red is able to give crisp picture and definition in low light, eliminates blur when used as a steadycam, and provides high definition playback. Digital filming allows the director and actors to go for longer takes, and is cheaper than shooting on film. Other films shot with this amazing new technology include "The Social Network", the upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Strange Tides", "District 9", "Che"; as well as numerous television series like "Southland", "Covert Affairs", "Sanctuary", and "Louis". It is truly amazing.

First time screen writer Dan Schaffer makes a valiant effort at crafting a 90-minute story line, but gets weighed down by the limitations a screenplay has over his usual comic book format. I am curious to read his comic works, especially "Dogwitch" about an outcast witch obsessed with the sick and unstable subcultural population. Could be good.

The FX are really great- heads being chopped in half, guts galore, crazy zombie make-up. It's got it all. It's no surprise when you consider that the team responsible also worked on "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy", "Splintered", "Prince of Persia", and "Moon". Great make-up and FX can really help a poor movie become a good one.

All in all, I like this movie more after learning more about the behind the scenes, but I don't think I could really recommend it. Unless, that is, you've got a beef with women and enjoy watching idiots attempt to fight zombies. You would do better to rent "Shaun of the Dead" again.

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