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Underrated: Dogtooth 

When? 2009

What's it rated? Not rated

Where's it available? Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play

When I first saw a Yorgos Lanthimos film, it was The Killing of A Sacred Deer (2017) and I was a little wine drunk. A friend and I were looking to watch a good horror movie, and as she pressed play, I remember settling in with a glass of Two-Buck Chuck, ready to be sorely disappointed by yet another cheesy movie about a family moving into a haunted house.

But the next two hours were filled with the most perplexing, original, and truly unsettling storytelling I'd ever seen. It was somehow painfully creepy and hilarious all at once, both beautiful and disgusting—a perfect reflection of my feelings about our society today.

I loved it, and I took my passion straight to the Internet, where I found a list of Yorgos Lanthimos' movies and watched them all (not all in one day, I swear I have a life). Dogtooth, for innumerable reasons, is my favorite.

The film centers on a couple (Christos Stergioglou and Michele Valley) and their three children—one son (Hristos Passalis) and two daughters (Angeliki Papoulia and Mary Tsoni)—who are locked away on the family's spacious property. None of the family members are named, and only the father ever leaves.

He has total control over his kids, who, despite appearing to be adults, carry the innocence and play the games of young children throughout the movie. They know nothing of the real world, only what falsities their inexplicably manipulative parents have told them: that rabid cats roam the earth, hungry for human flesh. That kids can only leave home when a canine—a "dogtooth"—falls out. That their father is the only person who can protect them from the dangerous world outside.

He's abusive physically, sexually, and emotionally, and as the father's lies and demands become increasingly sinister, the eldest daughter grows restless and becomes difficult to manage.

It's a powerful and insanely unusual film that moves from disturbing to comedic with ease, and yet before I watched it, I hadn't heard much about it.

Sure, Rotten Tomatoes has Dogtooth rated at a 92 percent; Roger Ebert gave it a three out of four; and it's racked up dozens of accolades (including a Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the 2010 Academy Awards). But Dogtooth still hasn't garnered the same attention in the U.S. that Lanthimos' more recent films have.

Maybe it's because Dogtooth is written and performed in Greek, Lanthimos' native language, or because Colin Farrell's bushy eyebrows don't grace the screen as they did in both The Killing of A Sacred Deer (2017) and The Lobster (2015). But for whatever reason, most people who have seen Lanthimos' films haven't seen Dogtooth.

Don't be one of those people. (94 min) Δ

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