The dysfunctional family saga of Dogtooth 

My Big Fat Greek Sheltered Life

The eldest daughter in Dogtooth should expect a visit from the tooth fairy soon enough

Photos courtesy of Kino International

The eldest daughter in Dogtooth should expect a visit from the tooth fairy soon enough

I suggest you watch the trailer for Dogtooth before you decide to see it. You'll need a point of reference so that you can have a little bit of an idea of what you're getting in to. Though the concept may pique your interest, many scenes in this Greek film are graphically twisted and not for the faint of stomach. But if you're a sucker for shock value, than it's definitely worth the trip to North Charleston this weekend.

Dogtooth is about a family. There is a mother, a father, and three adult children (a boy and two girls) living together in a secluded house complete with a lush backyard and a pool. And that's where the normalcy ends.

The children have never left this home. Ever. Instead, their parents have created a dangerously warped reality for what lies outside their gate. They have invented a "brother" who, as punishment, is forced to live on the other side of a hedge wall. They tell the kids that cats are the most dangerous, murderous animals alive. In their world, a person is only ready to leave when they lose their "dogtooth."

The ages of the children are unknown, though they look to be in their 20s, and so are their names, but it seems as if the eldest, a daughter, has a few years between herself and the others. Despite their physical maturity, the children are, mentally, children. They swim in their pool, play masochistic games with each other, and try to win contests so they can collect prizes. When he gets scared one night, the son even retreats to his parents' bed for safety.

Meanwhile, the parents like to watch porn. Mom has a telephone, though hidden away. Dad has a cushy job, a Mercedes, and a cell phone. His life in the workplace is as much of a fraud as it is at home; his co-workers think his wife is in a wheelchair.

The only thing creepier than this situation are the parents themselves, especially the father. He brutally wields a power over his entire family for a completely unknown reason. It's not like he's scared for their safety if they ever do leave. He wants to keep them trapped in his prison where his word is law. The mother, though less powerful, is just as bad. She comfortably walks a line between the isolation of the house and the freedom of knowing she has access to the real world if and when she wants it.

The only hiccup in this otherwise sheltered life is when the father semi-regularly brings home Christina, a security guard at his office, to have sex with the son. This outsider also maintains a relationship with the daughters, though it's unclear if the girls understand why Christina is there. Eventually, Christina uses her influence to take advantage of the eldest's naivety; gradually, it is this daughter who emerges as the film's central character.

It's here that we reach the turning point in this woman's life. While the other siblings seem content to stay the course of their parents' programming, she begins to lash out violently and sexually, punishing her brother and exploiting her sister. Like a child, she bargains and threatens to tattle if she doesn't get her way.

If you decide to see Dogtooth, you should go into it knowing that you shouldn't ask questions. Don't bother. The reasoning behind what this family does is never clear and it won't be at any point during the movie. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're prepared, but if you go into it expecting to ever get answers for why these kids are treated this way, you're going to be especially troubled by what happens. But on the other hand, this unsettling force drives the viewer to stick the film out, even during its most uncomfortable moments — and there are many. You need to keep quiet and absorb what the film gives you. You'll want to know where all this weirdness is going to lead, and it does lead somewhere semi-conclusive. By the end of the film, this behavior comes to a bloody, yet hopeful, head, and will leave any shock-value fetish well satisfied.

The Greater Park Circle Film Society will present Dogtooth on Sat. Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Olde North Charleston Picture House (4820 Jenkins Ave.).

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