Wednesday, April 14, 2010

REVIEW: Doghouse

Director: Jake West
Year 2009

Doghouse is a bloody and gore filled British horror comedy hybrid, brought to us by director Jake West, where a battle of the sexes plays out in demonic glorious fashion. The film centers around a group of friends who plan to go away for the weekend in order to cheer up their mate after they find out he's getting a divorce from his wife. We're introduced to each character in a slideshow of short intros that let us get to know each character of the group. What they all have in common though is that they are all in various relationships that don't seem to be going well. That is aside from a few of the guys that have either chosen to treat women like sex objects or like the comic book store geek of the group who really hasn't ever had any luck with the ladies. So off they go on their adventure to a remote village called Moodley that is rumored to have a population thats ratio is 4 girls to every guy. Too bad the girls have gone ape-shit crazy and are turning into man hating demons straight from hell.

The group arriving at the suspiciously abandoned town of Moodley.

The cast in this film is phenomenal and they all do an excellent job of coping with this slapstick horror romp that is set in a sleepy demon filled town. We have the recently divorcee Vince, played by Stephen Graham, who brings a sympathetic edge to his role of a man that has always led the straight and narrow path of being a husband. I've always enjoyed his other work in films like Snatch, Gangs of New York, The I inside, and Goal! and I've just recently heard that he landed a part in the new Pirates of the Caribbean film so that should be pretty interesting to see how he handles that epic series.

We also are treated to a hilarious performance by Danny Dyer, who plays the character of Neil, the womanizing jerk who always looks out for his friends. Danny has made a number of enjoyable films like Human Traffic, Goodbye Charlie Bright, Football Factory, The Business, and Severence to name a few. He brings his A game with this prick of a character whose respect for woman is paper thin.

I would imagine that the groom had the
wedding jitters after seeing his bride.

Noel Clarke plays another one of the guys named Mikey. I've never had the pleasure to see any of his previous films, but I'm interested to see some more of his work because he does a commendable job here. He's also slated to star in a few movies that I'm really looking forward too including Heartless and Neil Marshall's roman epic Centurion. In Doghouse, he plays a key role in bringing his friends to this village because he lived here as a child and thought it would be a perfect place for the all guys retreat.

Another memorable cast member that really shines in his role is Lee Ingleby, playing the character of Matt, who is the awkward comic store worker whose experience with the ladies is nil. His character really comes into his own and he deals with the hazardous situation with extreme ingenuity as he constructs a jimmy rigged flame thrower from a super soaker. 

When we are introduced to him in the beginning of the film, we are given a bunch of fan boy references to what the tone of the film will follow. One of the main homages happens when we are shown an argument that Matt has with a young boy about how Evil Dead doesn't make any sense and that Ash is a pussy for letting women throw him around like like he does. Matt throws the little bastard out of the store and ends up getting egged for his trouble. This scene sets up the entire premise of the film as it lies heavily on the same stylistic concept of normal people acting like crazed demons, as what happens in the Evil Dead series. Also I couldn't help think of Simon Pegg's character in Spaced as he argues with that little kid that the new Star Wars Prequels are total rubbish. It was a nice throwback to one of the greatest sitcoms ever created, and it's the first time I saw what Lee Ingleby could bring to the table, when he played the role of the Romford thug leader that started the whole imaginary gun fight sequence that has become legendary. If you haven't watched Spaced, stop reading and obtain it right now. If you have seen it, then on with the review.

The group first realizes that there is something wrong.

Shit really starts to hit the fan, when the group of friends witness an army sergeant tackle a women on the streets and proceeds to bash her head in. Seeing this Vince springs into action and pulls the soldier off of the woman, only to be met with a great deal of resistance by the soldier as he tries to explain what he's doing. No one is listening to the man and they continue to fight, while the hooded woman that was tackled begins to sit up, with knife in hand, and proceeds to stab Danny Dyer's character in the hand. This is where their quant little retreat comes to a screeching halt and they are all thrust into survival mode, fighting for their very lives. The film never slows after this initial scene and the gory antics begin to ramp up to an insane pitch as the film progresses.

In the words of Ash from Army of Darkness,
"Oooh that's gotta hurt!"

This film borrows heavily from all aspects of the horror genre as it delves into Night of the Living Dead with our main characters being trapped inside a house for a short portion of the movie, then we have shades of From Dusk Till Dawn with the female vampire like villains, also of course The Evil Dead references that run rampant with the over the top kills and the loads of gore, and we even have a strong resemblance to Lamberto Bava's Demons series with the demonic women looking strangely similar to what Bava created with his demons. The homages are brilliantly done and never pull your attention away from the story at hand. 

The pissed off group wants answers from the sergeant.

The gore is also accomplished with great care and respect to the old school way of creating effects. There are a lot of practical special effects in this film and I never noticed an abundance or overuse of CGI to give the appearance of something spectacular. It was all done with a careful eye and the actual blood and gore was never scaled back or opted to be digitalized, as the filmmakers applied the gooey stuff with unrestrained and reckless abandon.

This guy must have a splitting headache. Yuk Yuk.

The fun part about this film is the separate journeys that our characters make as they get split up during all of the chaos. People show up when least expected and fall into situations that are beyond absurd, but work for this tongue and cheek style that Jake West brings with an iron fist.

One of these more memorable moments is when Danny Dyer's character has been captured by a mountain of a woman, who forces him to watch her eat his own fingers as he gags at the very sight of her chomping them down. It's a gross and original scene and one that embeds itself into your mind, bringing about the demented memories of Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, where the main character's zombified mother proceeds to eat her fallen decayed ear as it drops into her pudding. That scene, just like this one, is totally unique and entirely disgusting.

How would you like to have dinner
with this hefty box of chocolates?

The comedy is also spot on, with a plethora of dark comedic situations and hilarious lines. A great scene that comes to mind, happens when Stephen Graham and Lee Ingleby are trapped in the toy store, and Ingleby is inthralled with the fact that he finds a rare 80's toy robot in its original packaging. This is typical of his comic nerd tendencies, and it's ridiculous fun to see him play this card during a life or death situation. The same goes for the proceeding segment where the only weapon that Graham can find is a toy lightsaber which he actually tries to use on one of the ravenous women that try to break into the store. It's completely outlandish, but it's something that works for the tone of the film and it's basically just fun to actually see someone beating a person over the head with one of those flimsy pieces of crap toys.

Prepare for a lightsaber fight that totally
kicks all of the prequel fight's asses.

The metamorphoses that all our characters go through as the film blazes along is quite interesting and sometimes surprising. For instance Danny Dyer's womanizing character actually starts to change his tune midway through the film. As shown when he calls their taxi driver by her real name and not the pet name of Candy that he gave her earlier in the film. He sympathizes with the fact that the once normal woman is now a blood thirsty maniac and he astonishingly deems it right to show her some respect with saying her actual name.

There's also a change in Lee Ingleby's character, as he starts to prove his worth and be the first to really fight back against these demonic crazies. Not only does he rig up the super soaker flame thrower, but he also delivers a golf club to the skull of a heinous foe in repetitive successions. He really becomes a bad-ass as the film goes by and it's great to see unfold.

Ingleby, ready to unleash hell on anyone in a dress.

The look and concept for the possessed like woman of this film is strikingly vivid and grotesquely morbid. Each villainous character has a unique look to them and it enables us to actually get a chance to see these bad girls grow in their character, just as we get to see our main characters grow with them. They are creepy and really bring a whole other level to the film. The effects for their make-up or done to perfection and each monster brings a different aspect to their threat level and severity. There's a hairdresser that is armed with razor sharp sheers, there's the bride that carries a huge ax, a well endowed amazon woman wielding a Conan the barbarian sword, and a bloodied butcher with clever in hand. They're all great to look at and I imagine that someday they will have little cult action figures made out of each other if they haven't already, they're that vividly imagined.

It's time for the butcher to collect her meat.

Another great comedy scene happens when three of the guys are cornered in a woman's clothing store and one of them comes up with the brilliant idea to disguise themselves as women in order to get past the angry mob outside. These drag sequences are hilarious and the actors really go all out in portraying their female personas. The sergeant in particular reminds me of Peter Serafinowicz doing one of his over the top characters, especially like the one in his TV shopping network segment. It's all great and really adds to the overall enjoyment of the film.

And so started the sequel to, To Wong Foo,
Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.

The characters are so enjoyable to watch that it's actually sad to see them go when death quickly takes them from us. It also doesn't hurt that the group actually shows their grief at losing one of their own and to see them react in such a profound way as they fight all the more intensely to payback what has been delivered to their numbers. The camaraderie that is showcased within the group is great to see played out and solidifies the story into emotionally investing the audience in their plight. Even if this is just an over the top comedic horror, the director really wanted us to care for these people and see that they equally care for each other and that is greatly appreciated and expertly conveyed through the characters actions.

The group mourns one of their fallen friends.

The climax to the film is extraordinary and everything that has built up to this moment has been top grade stuff. Each segment has built upon the next, upping the stakes, and they all delivered on some creative kills and memorable moments. Also there has been a resurgence in one of the main characters that drives home a main plot of the story that women only bollocks things up for men. Whether you agree on this concept or not it doesn't really matter, because at the heart of the movie, it's just a fun film to be enjoyed and not taken too seriously.

The hero shot of our three main characters as they prepare to kick some ass.

Doghouse is a highly entertaining film, the kind that you can just sit back and relax and watch the antics unfold. It's an excellent addition to the horror comedy genre that has had a resurrection of sorts with the success of Shaun of the Dead and this film isn't far behind that classic. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the film and it left a lasting impression. The effects, acting, and general tongue and cheek nature of the film, delivers an entertaining movie that never stops giving you more gore and more eventful moments that really pack a punch to the old baby maker. Highly recommended for the gorehound in you that loves a good laugh.

4 out of 5 stars          An Entertaining and Bloody Treat.


  1. Damn. I haven't seen this one yet, but judging by the review and the stills it's bound to be entertaining. It's getting added to the library...

  2. Oh yeah, I recommend it in a second. The stills pretty much show what kind of movie you're in for and if you like british comedy, then there's no way it will disappoint.

  3. You were really ahead of the curve on this review. I haven't read anything on this before you're review. I can't wait to check it out when it hits the good old U.S.

  4. Pat, I'll have to bring my copy over this weekend for you to check out. It's an all region dvd that I picked it up at the Cinema Wasteland Convention last weekend, ended up stopping by there for an hour cause I was in the area celebrating my anniversary.

    Got to walk by Bub the zombie's booth and see him messing around on a laptop. My god Dr. Frankenstein has taught him to use a computer!

    Doghouse kicks ass though and I think you'd really dig it.

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