Saturday, 4 July 2015

Doghouse (2009)

Six men with mid-life anxiety, one of whom has recently been divorced and is extremely depressed, set out for a weekend in the small village of Moodley to reconnect with their masculinity. What they find on arrival is a catastrophe so horrible and bizarre that a mid-life crisis turns out to be exactly what they need to survive it.

This is a hopelessly ill conceived laddish zombie comedy. You know very little thought actually went into Doghouse when a character shuts down the inevitable questions regarding why the womenfolk of an isolated village have all turned into man eating zombies with little more than a 'that doesn't matter now' reply.

Actually to be fair to Doghouse they do later explain a teensy bit more; this is a biological warfare experiment conducted by the military but to what end I have no idea. The solider character who shut down the queries earlier claims there's some warfare potential in a virus that sets one gender against the other in civilian, really? Even Noel Clarke's character points out that would surely put the soldier out of a job!

Also I may have missed something but if the virus is in the village's washing powder, how come 'Candy' the boys coach driver gets zombiefied?

It really does feel like huge chunks of this film were either edited out or simply abandoned. Much is made of the woods where the zombies or 'zombirds' as the film insists on calling them go for fresh meat. You'd think that would be leading up to a chilling, gruesome set piece wouldn't you? It doesn't. It goes nowhere because characters don't go into the woods. Also the late Mary Tamm, former Doctor Who companion Romana, has a small cameo as an MP called Meg Nut. It's alluded to that she helped bring the virus to the village but again it's a plotline that is swept away unresolved when the end credits roll. 

It's a shame really that the most thought that has gone into Doghouse is of the misogynistic and homophobic variety. Whereas Shaun of the Dead was all about a slacker male growing up and realising he must stop being a dick to his woman during a zombie apocalypse, Doghouse takes the opposite course, literally suggesting that 'all women are mental' and that they want pets not men. To that end the characters of Doghouse actually regress as the film concludes, with Danny Dyer's character Neil - a man who thinks nothing of sneeringly dismissing every woman he meets as a 'slag', a 'dog' or genuinely mistaking a date for a prostitute - held up as the best way for a man to be. When the script goes some way to suggest a survival of the fittest style theory in favour of the most despicable female hating characters I really started to detest the nature of this very peculiar beast. As for the homophobia, the film seems to want to stand out from its laddish trappings by including a gay character in the gang who is at least accepted by each of them but they let themselves down terribly when the film decides to suggest that every gay man is actually a transvestite who just loves the opportunity to dress up as a woman, even when their life depends on it.  

Whereas much of the humour in Shaun of The Dead stemmed from that big boys and their toys and half arsed schemes in the face of grisly jet black comedic danger, much of Doghouse's script actually seems to believe the objectifying of women and the stupidly neanderthal values of their male leads is funny. It's not.

And yet, this does have its moments. Arguably it's helped by securing two truly decent and in demand performers in the shape of Stephen Graham and Lee Ingleby and it is their scenes that are genuinely smile raising at the very least. But its also very telling that both actors seems way above this kind of material and often look a little awkward with the stuff they have to deliver. There's also some genuine distinctive monsters in the shape of cult pin up fave Emily Booth as a zombie hairdresser and Nicola Jane Reading as a mammoth busted goth. Former Laura Croft Alison Carrol is in there as well as 'The Teen' but to be honest, I didn't spot her. The rest of the cast are a rather middling bunch whilst Danny Dyer proves that, as an actor, not only does he not have good dramatic instincts, he also doesn't have any instinct whatsoever for comedy.

What a cunt!

Ultimately Doghouse isn't as bad as Lesbian Vampire Killers, it's not as surprisingly modestly funny as Cockneys Vs Zombies, and its nowhere near the class of Shaun of The Dead. If they'd excised more of that Zoo and Nuts reader mentality instead of the actual plot it might, just might, have been something.

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