“Pretty soon, your mother will give birth to two children and a dog.”

Giorgos Lanthimos’s Dogtooth is one strange, nearly inexplicable film – a polymorphously perverse comedy about paranoia and control set in a suburban, Greek enclave which functions as something of 21st century Skinner box with a swimming pool. What unfolds plays out like some weird, cinematic feral child fostered by David Lynch and Pier Paolo Pasolini. In brief, Father and Mother have created a false paradise in their back yard, raising their children (Oldest Daughter, Younger Daughter, and Son) in a space far removed from the chaos of civilization (Father leaves for work on a daily basis as a manager of some sort at an urban factory; occasionally he brings back a female security guard to have sex with his Son). As far as the kids know, however, the world outside their compound is dangerous and taboo, subject to malevolent, killer kitty-cats who destroyed their brother years ago (it is unclear if the brother ever existed but such are the intriguing ambiguities at play in the text). Furthermore, Mother and Father have assigned their own arbitrary meanings to certain words; a zombie is a little yellow flower, a cunt is an overhead lighting instrument, the sea is a comfortable piece of furniture upon which one sits, and so on.

The first half hour is mostly odd, but things kick into gear in the final hour building to a violent and disturbing climax which is, well, kinda thrilling. This isn’t for everyone, but it is funny and disgusting and incestuously kinky. No matter how diligently Father works to impose structure on his family (usually through odd games of strength and endurance), the primitive forces of nature seem to find their way to the surface. Much like Lynch, Lanthimos is able to uncover the uncanny in quotidian gestures and recognizable spaces, and he has a nice eye for composition. Don’t get me started as to the film’s multiple uses of VCRs and VHS tapes.

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