Three children (Aggeliki Papoulia, Christos Passilas, and Mary Tsoni) live a sheltered existence with their parents (Christos Stergioglou and Michele Valley) who control them to the extreme in order to protect them from the rest of society. They invent an older brother who, they tell the children, ventured outside the confines of the estate and was killed by a vicious, flesh eating cat. The parents improvise new definitions for words like sea (an armchair) and zombie (little yellow flower) to further isolate them from anything beyond their bizarre, manipulated microcosm.
The children’s only link to the outside world is Christina (Anna Kalaintzidou), a security guard at the father’s workplace, who is paid to relieve the son of his sexual urges. One day, Christina offers a present to the oldest daughter but she is obligated to give her something in return – oral sex. The family structure starts to unravel once Christina is gone and the oldest daughter is forced to replace her role as the son’s personal prostitute. Whatever cruel punishment her father exacts, the oldest daughter isn’t deterred from rebelling and, eventually, going to great lengths to gain her freedom.
Dogtooth, original Greek title of Kynodontas, is shocking and depraved. This is not for most people and most definitely not for anyone under the age of 18. With multiple sex scenes (a few including incest and a very graphic fellatio clip from a pornographic video tape), an act of animal cruelty, violence and bloodshed, child abuse, and full frontal male and female nudity, this is not for the casual viewer. It seems the only debauchery left out of the film is bestiality (thank goodness).
The dialog is painful to endure at times but the acting is kind of hypnotic. In fact, it’s hard to stop watching entirely because of how inappropriate and insane the movie is. It plays out in a silly fashion with the lies the parents tell the children elevating to absurdity for their own selfish desires (e.g., Frank Sinatra is their grandfather so they have a reason to listen to his records).
For me, the highlight of Dogtooth is when the two daughters dance for the parents, who are celebrating their anniversary, while the son strums an expressive tune on the guitar. An innocent, reverent dance with her younger sister turns into a frenzied solo interpretation of Flashdance that becomes so intense, she’s ordered by her mother to stop. Imagine contestants on shows like America’s Got Talent or So You Think You Can Dance who are aired only because their dancing is so horrendous, so hilarious, so over-the-top, but so full of spirit that it must be witnessed.