Revelation Film Festival – Day Two

I never understood how someone could walk out half-way through a movie. I mean, you’ve already paid your money, and there is always the possibility that the film will get better. Sure, we all wanted to jump ship during the first 10 minutes of Juno, but think of how much that film improved in the 2nd and 3rd act. I think it’s worth the risk to sit through rubbish, if only for the chance to experience potentially hidden moments of genius.
I bring this up because a number of people decided to abandon Yorgos Lanthimos’ divisive (and that’s an understatement) film Dogtooth a mere half-hour into proceedings. Although the film was screened in The Astor’s second smaller theatre, the room was packed, with some patrons taking up residence on the floor. Anticipation was high for this acclaimed award winner (it picked up Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes, and was named Best Film at the Greek equivalent of the Oscars), but I guess some people didn’t realise how confronting the experience would be. They walked out early and missed out on one of the most brilliant film’s about human experimentation ever made. Of course, films as challenging as this wear walk-outs like badges of honour.

So, what’s it all about Alfie? Well, try and think of the absolute worst case home-school scenario possible. Whatever you’ve come up with is likely a little less horrifying than the universe depicted in Dogtooth. Two deranged parents keep their three adult children confined within their lavish, isolated home. They educate them on proper etiquette (kinda), teach them the incorrect meanings of words, and force them to compete against one another for love, attention and respect.

Dogtooth depicts the final days of order in this household. When the home’s one and only visitor (I won’t describe what they are brought to the house for) introduces some sexuality to the children, things spiral out of control. Latent aggression becomes not-so-latent, repressed violence ends up being not-so-repressed, and the ever-present weirdness escalates to much greater heights. Those demented parents soon realise that human beings can’t be broken down and remoulded the same way dogs can, because, well, they’re human beings.

This is not the kind of film that can be figured out mere minutes after leaving the cinema. I’m going to have to let this one stew for a while, and perhaps revisit it at a later date. What it’s all about, I’m still not so sure. All I know is that I loved it. Dogtooth is a visceral experience; even more challenging and confronting than a certain film about a certain human centipede. I loved it, right down to its maddeningly ambiguous ending. More importantly, this is why I love this film festival. It’s precisely the kind of edgy little flick that I wished had opened the fest. We’re only two days in, and Dogtooth is going to be hard to top. Your move Revelation.

Dogtooth will also play Monday, July 12th.

The 2nd day of Rev also saw a late-night screening of Ti West’s The House of the Devil. Although I didn’t stick around for the scary shenanigans, you can check out my review of the film here.

Discuss: Which films have you caught at the fest so far?

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