ON DVD & BLU-RAY
Dhogs (2017) dir: Andrés Goteira DVD (Yume Pictures)
A complex narrative about violence
This multi-stranded story-within-a-story is divided into three titled chapters: Part I: Taxi, Part II: Dogs and Part III: Dhogs.
The central narrative focuses on a number of characters whose lives violently intertwine. They include an actor pretending to be a taxi driver, a businessman, a promiscuous young woman, a psychopath who abducts her, an old hermit living in the desert with his dog, and an alcoholic mother who runs a gas station with her withdrawn son.
In turn, their experiences are viewed extraneously by both a theatre audience and by a father and child who control their actions via a video game.
Watch a trailer:
Engrossing food for thought
Dhogs is notable for having been made in Spain’s autonomous Galicia territory, with dialogue in the Galician language. It is an elaborate, challenging film which, in its early stages, might come across as being pretentious and self-consciously arty. In the end, however, it all clicks into place in a uniquely chilling and provocative manner. In a nutshell, it’s all about the voyeuristic aspect of sex and violence and about how we, as human beings, are no better than animals in our primal viciousness.
The film’s early sequences are basic enough but help to engender the film’s style and mood. The pacing is languid, the cinematography stylish in the manner of an ad in a a glossy magazine. A little while later, we are treated to a scene of hotel room sex which turns out to be taking place on a stage in front of a theatre audience. In a sense, their (and our) base hormonal yearnings are being pandered to.
Afterwards, however, the proceedings take a darker turn and force us to ask more uncomfortable questions around our reactions to some frankly harrowing onscreen events. Yes, they are indeed horrible but, at the same time, there’s an implication that they are just a natural follow-through in a narrative thread which panders to our basest instincts. The misogynists might feel that the young female victim brought the treatment upon herself by being too sexually forward. The feminists might want her to head out on a trail of violent retribution in the manner of Revenge (2017). The film gives us both and, in effect, allows us to explore our own inner attitudes to what transpires.
By the film’s close, we are treated to some exhilarating Doom-style first-person camerawork and a strangely uplifting scene where one character unexpectedly celebrates a newfound freedom. Such moments might have seemed absurd in context with the protracted tension and brutality which take up most of the midsection. Notably, however, they are allowed to occur due to the moral choices made by a child - the one truly untainted figure here.
Dhogs is an engrossing and distinctive take on the story-within-a-story subgenre which will keep you pondering for days afterwards.
Runtime: 85 mins
Dir: Andrés Goteira
Script: Andrés Goteira, Javier Alonso
Starring: Melania Cruz, Antonio Durán 'Morris’, Miguel de Lira, Iván Marcos, Carlos Blanco, María Costas
It looks and sounds about as good as a DVD can get. The colour grading is warm and rich. The ambient background noises are mixed effectively into the soundtrack, keeping the viewer suitably immersed in the horrific goings-on.
A trailer and that’s about it.
If you are the kind of person who likes to think while they watch, then Dhogs is for you. It’s a pity about the lack of extras though. In particular, I would have liked to have head what director Andrés Goteira had to say about the film.