Doghouse (2009)

Doghouse (2009)

The battle of the sexes just got bloody……….

In order to help their mate get over his divorce, a group of friends organise a lads weekend away in the country to a remote village where the women apparently outnumber the men three to one. However when they get there, they find that the women have been infected by a virus which turns them into rabid zombies.

 

There’s been a wave of ‘boozy Brit horrors’ recently – films where you can imagine the target audience being solely men who think that they are “geezers” and enjoy the finer things in life like their lager and curries on a Friday night. Unfortunately since Shaun of the Dead, almost all of the recent British horror-comedies have tried and failed to mix horror and comedy properly and think that they’re funny or scary but they’re not.

Doghouse is the latest entry into this sub-genre and fares a little better given the ‘named’ cast including rent-a-Cockney Danny Dyer, Stephen Graham (who must have a contract to appear in every single British gangster film since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and Noel Clarke who’s probably best known for being one of the assistants on Doctor Who. But at the end of the day, it’s still unable to mix both comedy and horror to any degree of success and falls flat on its face too many times just when you think it may get going.

Doghouse takes a rather dim-witted and misogynistic outlook towards females and spends most of its running time featuring men finding ways to batter, beat and humiliate the zombified women. It also makes the silly mistake of killing off the few ‘nice guy’ characters and having the cocky, bigoted, women-hating assholes survive. Where are the morals in this? The film isn’t that funny despite being labelled as a ‘horror comedy.’ Sure enough there are one or two funny lines or some quirky moments of black humour but in the most, it’s clearly designed to be funny when you’re drunk or if you find the sight of a zombie woman hairdresser hilarious. The jokes are spread out too thinly when they do arise.

The film isn’t scary either or gory for that matter. Again there’s a fair sprinkling of blood and gore in some scenes and a few of the kills are decent enough but given that the director was behind the low budget splatter fest Evil Aliens, you’ll be a bit disappointed to find the levels toned down dramatically here. One good thing is that the zombies in the village are all given their own unique identities. In much the same vein that George A. Romero liked to imbue a few of his featured zombies with a gimmick (the Hare Krishna from Dawn of the Dead, the tambourine zombie from Land of the Dead, etc), the female zombies here are given their own characters. There’s the leather-clad, sword-wielding owner of the occult store, the zombie hairdresser, the bride in her undies and the obese woman.

The light-hearted tone of the film kills any attempts at creating atmosphere or scares though. The opening shots of the empty village are promising enough but as soon as the zombies reveal themselves, the film does little to recapture that mood. There’s no gradual unmasking of the threat they face. There’s no real build-up to all hell breaking loose. The guys get to the village, get attacked and spend the rest of the film running from the ‘Zombirds’ and thinking of ways to get out of the village. This cycle quickly grows a little tiresome and it sums the film up brilliantly to say that’s a bit too eager to get to the good stuff when a little apprehension and holding back would have worked wonders.

The characters are what the film clearly perceives as your typical young men: those who watch football every week, go out drinking, have a curry or burger and chips and like the opposite sex (ok most guys like all of these things but they’re not the be-all-and-end-all of human existence as this film would have you believe). Danny Dyer continues his typecasting so if you’ve seen him in any other film, expect more of the same. I honestly don’t mind his routine though – he was quality in Severance – but he’s only as entertaining as the script lets him. His Cockney wide-boy schtick grows tiresome when the script isn’t funny and he’s bearable here but only because he’s supported by some people who can act. Noel Clarke fires off some of the best one-liners in the film and the other male actors at least provide their limited roles with some life and energy.

The chemistry between the cast is excellent and you buy into the fact that this is a group of mates out for a good time. There’s friendly ribbing, blokey banter and some awkward emotional moments, all of which any guy would be able to associate with. The problem I have with most of these characters is that their attitudes towards women leave a lot to be desired so are we supposed to relate to them and cheer for them? Having one sexist may be acceptable enough for a horror film but a group of them will kill off a good proportion of their likeability before they’re even in trouble.

 

Doghouse is crude, primitive male filmmaking which may have gone down well back in the days when women just had to sit and do housework all day (who is that shouting that they should still be doing that?) but nowadays, it’s an unwelcome relic and another weak Shaun of the Dead wannabe.

 

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