Wednesday, October 13, 2010

30 Days of Fright - 12: Doghouse

This review is going to start off a little differently as it’s important that you know who I’m talking about, so here’s a picture of well ‘ard London geezer, Danny Dyer, who you may have seen in The Business, Mean Machine, Human Traffic, or one of those Britain’s Hardest Gobshites type programmes on Bravo late at night:

Danny Dyer frowns on your shenanigans

I wonder if Danny Dyer is a vampire? You never see him on TV until after dark, there’s no way in Hell you’d let him into your house unless you’d specifically invited him, and he never shaves which may be because he has no reflection but also his beard never seems to get any longer either! The reason this line of thinking entered my head is down to Dyer appearing in last night’s film.

Doghouse (2009) starts off in London where a group of friends are having trouble with women in varying degrees. Vince is in the final stages of a painful divorce, Neil is a twat with a caveman-like approach to women who couldn’t stay in a relationship to save his life, Mikey is constantly on the receiving end of an earful as he treats his wife quite poorly, Matt is a comic-loving geek, and so on. The lads decide that a weekend away is what’s needed to cheer up Vince and get his mind of his troubles, so they hire a bus complete with a good looking female driver and head to the remote village of Moodley where Mikey’s gran has left her house idle while she’s away on a cruise.

Upon arrival they realise that Moodley is a very small, very quiet village off in the middle of the woods with not much going for it. Mickey insists that they’ll have a good time as the female population outnumbers the men by about four to one. The lads have a look about but find the pub deserted and no life in any of the shops. Mickey is dispatched to his gran’s house to ensure that they’ll at least have somewhere to sleep that night.

Mickey heads up to house and discovers a scene of carnage with destruction and gore all over the place. Meanwhile, back in the village the rest of the group head back to the bus and come across an apparently homeless woman roaming around. Suddenly a soldier pops out and starts knocking the shit out of yer one. The boys don’t take kindly to this attack and wade in against the soldier. The quickly discover that they’ve picked the wrong side as the homeless girl is revealed to be a zombie. Mickey rejoins the group, followed by another zombie. As they try to get back on the bus they find that their driver has been infected by whatever has befallen the other women in Moodley and has turned zombie as well.

The boys then spend the rest of the night fighting off man eaters like they’ve never dealt with before and along the way face death, destruction, and their own weaknesses.

Matt trying to score with a zombie - proof that the "what goes on tour stays on tour" rule doesn't cover everything

Doghouse is a horror comedy that seems to have been made with “fake it ‘till ya make it” as it’s driving philosophy as there are a lot of elements that seem false. To say that the film was heavily influenced by movies like Shaun of the Dead, is a just a kinder way of saying that Doghouse is basically a cheap knock-off of a zombie comedy, with a cast made up of the sorts of people you’d expect to be selling dodgy DVD’s down the market not starring in them.

Every actor in Doghouse appears to have been a second choice as it’s a cast who normally appear in supporting roles, featuring Mickey from Dr. Who (coincidentally as Mickey in Doghouse), the bloke who played Hollom in Master & Commander, Tommy from Snatch, and Danny Dyer kinda in the lead role as Neil, though I suspect he only got top billing as his was the only name anyone had a chance of recognising.

The funny thing about Doghouse, though, is that as a comedy it works really well. It’s a funny film, proper funny in some spots, and this is something that should be credited not to the writer but to the actors as the majority of the humour comes from swearing and the effective way the boys use it. Anyone with a strong accent of any kind could have delivered the lines, but in this case it was boys from the Thames (and one from the Mersey) who did deliver them and it was funny! Thankfully, on the production side the editing is excellent so the funny moments hit just right and the comedic timing works.

The written comedy doesn’t work so well and there are parts of Doghouse that are too silly for their own good, especially when they tried to big up that it’s a lads movie, the very antithesis of every chick flick you’ve ever heard of. There was no need to try so hard on that front and some of the jokes could have worked better if they’d been turned down just a bit, as usual the film-makers seemed to think that the audience is too dumb to get jokes without an explanation.

There was one aspect that’s central to Doghouse that was handled with subtlety that I really liked and it leads me to believe that there’s hope for the director, Jake West. In Doghouse there is a strong sense of comradery that shines through above and beyond the idea of not leaving someone behind. The boys have gone away on their trip to help one of their friends work through a divorce and they are very kind to him, Dyer’s character on more than one occasion is disgusted by what the failed relationship and divorce has done to his friend, referring to him before things went bad as “a king!”. Also, one of the group is openly gay and is living with a man, and nobody cares! There’s a joke or two at the characters expense, but there’s a joke or two at everyone’s expense; they’re lads slagging each other and no-one's safe in a situation like that. There was no need to include a gay character but they did and the way the character is played and interacts with the others makes Doghouse a better film for his inclusion.

I asked if Danny Dyer may be a vampire, mainly because most of his work sucks – but Doghouse doesn’t.

Two Thumbs Up for Doghouse.

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