Three teenagers are confined to an isolated country estate and they spend their days listening to endless homemade tapes that teach them a whole new vocabulary. Any word that comes from beyond their family abode is instantly assigned a new meaning. Hence ‘the sea’ refers to a large armchair and ‘zombies’ are little yellow flowers. The kids are being terrorized by their parents because they have been disobedient. The father is the only family member who can leave the manicured lawns of their self-inflicted exile, earning the place and that is to go to work. Only one outsider is allowed to come there is his colleague Christina, who is paid to relieve the son of his male urges. Tired of these dutiful acts of carnality, Christina enlists the elder daughter for some girl-on-girl action and this disturbs the balance of the group.
This film talks about the myths and lies we are told to maintain status quo and the appearance of stability and normality. It explores the abuse of protecting a child from outside influences to the extreme of denying human instincts and inquisitiveness about their world and it shows how telling children lies for their own safety makes them fearful of the world and influences their innate understanding about life. The film creates a world with an absurd, fully realized, vocabulary that is only understood by the members of this family.
This is an odd film. At first, we are confused as to what is going on but eventually it becomes fairly clear that mother and father have been “protecting” their offspring from the outside world, They tell them that they cannot leave their house until their “dogtooth” has fallen out and grown back again (there is no such tooth). If they do manage to leave, they are told that they will immediately be devoured by man’s biggest enemy, cats.
The concept is excellent and very relevant. The acting at times is a bit weird and stilted but then you we understand that they speak in a special language. The violence is filmed realistically. The ending won’t be to everybody’s taste but I cannot think of that would be any better.
This is a movie that will not let you look away. The Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos is in total command of visuals and performances. There is a good deal of full-frontal nudity, violence and subversive satire, and these make this not a movie for everyone.