J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Morbido ’17: Dhogs

Forget about Mars and Venus, Red and Blue, or any other social dichotomies. According to this film, humanity is really made up of dogs and hogs. The former are loyal and obedient, whereas the latter are dirty, self-indulgent, and perverse. Either way, man remains inherently animalistic. Andrés Goteira invites us to take a good hard look at human nature and then shows us up for being voyeuristic in Dhogs (trailer here), which screens during the 2017 Morbido Film Fest, in CDMX.

Essentially, Dhogs is a Galician language serial killer movie (explaining its presence at Morbido), except it actually gets worse than that for one prospective victim. The narrative is sort of a triptych, but the interconnecting links are especially random for this sort of post-Tarantino movie. Perhaps the weirdest thing going on is Goteira’s explicit homages to Léos Carax’s Holy Motors, of all films.

The unnamed cabbie is sort of Monsieur Oscar figure, but before proceeding with his head-scratching business, he will drop off a middle-aged businessman, who will subsequently pick up a younger woman in the bar of his hotel. Their illicit courtship will be closely watched by the bartender, another patron, and what appears to be a theater audience, in a recurring bit of meta fourth wall-breaking gamesmanship.

Unfortunately, “Álex” as she calls herself, will be abducted by a serial killer during her walk-of-shame from the hotel. From here on out, the film gets drastically darker and dramatically more violent. Frankly, her initial abductor will not even be the worst of her problems, but he is still pretty damn bad.

The second and third acts have some tough stuff that is truly punishing to watch. To cap it all off, the big concluding revelation manages to be both disappointing and disturbing. It is true Goteira is trying to say something the dehumanizing influences of our hedonistic contemporary culture, but he really flogs the viewer with his depictions of man’s bestial treatment of his fellow man.

Still, Melania Cruz is utterly riveting and absolutely harrowing as the horribly unfortunate Álex. It is a great performance, but it is still just as hard to watch as everything else in the film. Respected for the ensemble work, but not recommended for mortal human consumption, Dhogs screens tomorrow (10/28) as part of this year’s Morbido in Mexico City. Those in attendance should definitely make a higher priority of 78/52, Trench 11, Sequence Break, and The Endless.

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