Dogtooth (2009, Giorgos Lanthimos)

Odd movie, weirdly off-center compositions with tops cut off. Opens with three siblings, insulated in a suburban house their entire lives, being taught fake vocabulary words (“a sea is a leather armchair with wooden arms”). Dad brings a female security guard called Christina from town to have dispassionate sex with the son. The girls kill time by playing fun games, like testing homemade anesthetics (“the one who wakes up first will be the winner”).

Everybody loves Christina:

The girl from outside brings new ideas, and the kids start to act differently, attacking each other with knives and hammers. An unknown creature (neighbor’s kitty) comes over the fence, and the boy defends his family using garden shears.

Dad finds out that one girl (none of the kids have names) got hollywood videos from security guard Christina and developed a killer Rocky impression. He punishes the guilty parties appropriately, beating his daughter with the videotape duct-taped to his hand, then nailing Christina with her VCR. “I hope your kids have bad influences and develop a bad personality. I wish this with all my heart as punishment for the evil you have caused my family.”


Dad tells them a person is ready to leave the house when their dogtooth comes out. Predictably, his daughter knocks out her own tooth, then hides in the trunk of his car to escape. The other daughter is having sex with her brother (if the kids are even related, and not kidnapped or something).

A Cannes winner and oscar nominee. The mom appeared in the other bizarro incestual Greek movie I’ve seen, Singapore Sling. The movie doesn’t explain much, goes in its own entertaining direction instead of trying to psychoanalyze and present backstory.

Lanthimos is one of Cinema Scope’s 50 Under 50, but I’ve avoided reading his entry because it contains possible spoilers about his follow-up, Alps.

Film Quarterly:

Dadaism delighted in exaggerating the pompous absurdity of the ceremonies that authority needs in order to legitimate itself, and Lanthimos’s anatomization of patriarchal power in Dogtooth partakes of the same spirit of coldly savage caricature. The father in the film is not the underside of the Law so much as its parodic extension.