Doghouse on Blu-Ray

Thursday, 08 October 2009 10:33

A bunch of thirty-something men plan a booze-fest to help their mate Vince get over his divorce. Most of the men are suffering from something of a mid-life crisis, feeling like they have lost the masculinity and cocksure identity of their youth, and are pinning the blame squarely on the women in their lives, past and present. They book a chauffeur-driven mini-bus, and set off to Moodley, a miniscule village with a very alluring claim to fame: the women apparently outnumber the men four to one.

When they arrive there is no one around, and they fear they might have come to the worst place on Earth for a good time. That impression does not last long, though, as Moodley is actually a town full of rampant, blood-thirsty female zombies (or “zombirds” as the movie’s makers like to call them) who would like nothing better than to get up close and personal with the visitors!

Doghouse on Blu-Ray and DVDDirector Jake West’s movie has no pretentions about being a modern, intelligent take on the zombie horror genre. What it does strive to do is entertain, and it hits that target squarely in the bull’s-eye. As a “zomcom” it is up there with “Sean of the Dead”, and it makes its mark thanks to some unambitious but very solid comedy, action and decent production values.

Central to the movie’s success is the cast of male degenerates – in equal parts likeable and objectionable thanks to their daft, swaggering, testosterone-fuelled banter and male chauvinist pig-headedness. To get an immediate idea of the kind of Neanderthals they are, they all have the same Match of the Day mobile ringtone (cue amusing “is it your phone or mine” scene).

Ironically, their first act in the village is to try to save a hoody-wearing woman from being physically assaulted by a soldier. Little do they know that the soldier intended to do them a favour – until the snarling “little lady” gets up and stabs one of them through the hand. From there on the realisation quickly dawns that this is no ordinary place; at first the crazed women and littered body parts from their previous attacks are slowly revealed but as night falls, the guys’ world is turned upside down and they quickly find themselves at the mercy of women far more intimidating than those they left behind. And there is worse to come...

Fans of British TV shows and films will see many familiar faces, including Danny Dyer as Neil, a laddish prat who constantly brags about women loving him until he wishes he was able to completely vanish off their radars, Stephen Graham as Scouser Vince, very much an extension of Craig Charles’ Lister from Red Dwarf, only here he really is at liberty to “get out there and twat it” – with any make-shift weapon he can lay his hands on! We also have erstwhile Doctor Who actor Noel Clarke as cheeky-chappy Mikey, Lee Ingleby as Matt, the resourceful comic-book-store nerd and Terry Stone as Sergeant Gavin Wright, a very handy military contact who is conspicuously in the heat of the action when the men arrive.

The male characters gel brilliantly and really feel like they have known each other for years, constantly taking the Micky out of each other but also leaning on one another when the going gets tough.

As good as the male cast are, the film would not work without a major counter force, and the zombirds work fantastically, thanks to superb characterisation, makeup and generous dollops of humour. Each and every one of them stands out, generally because of their occupation pre-zombification, and the way the actresses and choreographers have designed their roles. Prime examples are the stunning and terrifying wedding and hairdresser zombies – slender, kinkily dressed but moving in fits and starts, one wielding an axe, the other like a crazed female version of “Edward Scissorhands”, snapping and flashing her two pairs of scissors in the air like she means to do real harm with them.

Other notable zombirds include a butcher with a massive cleaver, a whip-wielding hunt participator and a lollipop lady. However, special mention must definitely go to “Bubbles”, a hideous creation reminiscent of a “dark side” version of Matt Lucas’s already shiver-inducing character from Little Britain. Bubbles kidnaps one of our unlucky gang, and apparently plans to have her wicked way with him, after making use of his digits to bolster her display of literal finger food.

As you would expect from the above text (and the genre in general), the film sometimes veers into the realms of dubious if not outright bad taste, but its tongue is so firmly planted in its cheek, and the action is directed with such panache and high pace that you rarely notice something they would have been better off leaving on the cutting-room floor.

Some of the humour is groan-inducing, but again, you just cannot resist going with the flow. “What kind of virus only attacks women?” asks one character. “Bird flu” responds the other. Dumb, yes, but it works in this context, believe me. There is plenty of gore, including the usual array of split heads, lopped limbs and free-flowing intestines, and the zombie makeup is typically very effective in a stylised, caricatured sense.

For every scene you have seen before, an example of inventiveness pops up to keep it fresh. The guys have to use whatever they can find to fend off the zombies, including golf clubs, a remote-control car with severed-head decoy taped to the back, fuel-filled water pistols that make remarkably efficient flame throwers, and in one hilarious sequence a football to knock out the Zimmer-frame from underneath a ravenous granny.

“Doghouse” is tremendous fun, and on the DVD and Blu-Ray releases the film is bolstered by the likes of an entertaining and tightly-structured 45-minute “making-of” documentary (featuring plenty of interviews and lots of behind the scenes detail), three deleted scenes, a funny and expletive-filled blooper reel, trailers and an illuminating pre-production gallery.

The discs are released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on 12 October, Certificate ‘18’, with a RRP of  £15.99 on DVD, or £24.99 on Blu-Ray.

 

Movie Review: "Doghouse" (2009)

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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