Doghouse (2009)

I’ve never been to England but I desperately want to work the word “wanker” into my daily speech. Sadly I think it only works if you say it with a British accent (i.e., “WANK-uh”). So basically I’m out of luck unless I spend enough time overseas to become one of those annoying ex-pats who take on their host country’s dialect, a fate worse than death as far as I’m concerned.

Alas, if I can’t sound all cool and Queen’s Englishy, at the very least I can appreciate the fine, dry wit of English cinema. For my money, Shaun of the Dead is just about the best horror comedy of the last twenty years. Right up there with it is 2006’s Severance. In both cases you get endearing British blokes dealing with situations that go from comically annoying to horribly disturbing in short order, pushing the squishy protagonists to new heights of resolve. So it was with high expectations that I approached 2009’s Doghouse. Take a guess where this is going.

The story: Poor Vince is on the verge of an ugly divorce. To cheer him up his six best pals (“mates”, I believe is the word), led by the womanizing Neil, spirit him away for a weekend of drinking in the isolated hamlet of Moodley, a town reportedly populated by four women to every one man. Even to the casual observer, their collective misogyny appears ripe for dire karmic repercussions. When they arrive in Moodley the place looks to be deserted. Despite the desolation the weekend still seems salvageable, until one of the guys comes upon a disfigured bride feasting on the remains of some poor villager. He beats it back to his buds, and together they cross paths with the last surviving member of a military unit stationed in town. The soldier tells them that there is indeed a virus on the loose. It has no effect on men but turns all women into savage cannibals. He never does explain why so many of them happened to be decked out in dominatrix gear when they got infected, but let’s not look a gift stripper in the blood-drenched mouth, mmkay?

"I now pronounce you...gross."

Biggest letdown: The setup is pretty solid, and the gang’s good-natured shit talking feels pretty genuine. So it was hugely disappointing to see how lazily the horror aspect is dealt with. After about an hour in which no one seems to be in any danger, the final 30 minutes are packed with indistinguishable variations of chase, kill, repeat. Even when major characters start dying there’s no sense of urgency, nor is there any ironic recognition of its absence. They’re all screaming and running and bleeding, but it feels like they’re just going through the motions until they eventually wind their way back to the bus that has been waiting in the middle of town since they arrived.

What happens in Moodley, stays in Moodley.

Why you should watch: Even though the second and third acts are pretty mundane and have a decidedly inconsequential feel to them, the movie as a whole is still fairly funny. I happen to think comedic leading man Danny Dyer is always worth the price of admission. Apparently I’m not alone in that belief because a glance at his IMDB page reveals dude has done eleven movies in the year since Doghouse came out, with another half-dozen in various stages of production. Funny that a guy who always plays a stoned slacker is apparently such a workaholic.

Use the farce, Luke.

Perhaps the highlight of the whole movie, though, is the unsung, sexy stuntwomen who bring the army of “zombirds” to life. It’s their ability to act murderous through half an inch of facial prostheses and four-inch heels while getting thrown around and lit on fire that makes this a horror movie at all. Well done, ladies, well done.

Insert generic broken nail joke here.

Memorable Moment: After one particularly grueling chase sequence, the guys hole up in a church. After catching their breath they seemingly relocate their masculine chauvenism in time to discuss which of the ravenous, blood-vomiting zombirds they’d…you know. After a few suggestions, one of them mentions the woman in the wedding dress from when they first arrived. In uninson the rest of the guys reply, “She’s married.”

Choice quote: “Now is not the time to stop objectifying women!”

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