Say what you want about films from England; they know how to write and execute horror-comedies!! Sure they have their failures (like the 2009 suck-fest, Lesbian Vampire Killers) but let’s not forget Shaun of the Dead (2004) and The Cottage (2008), to name but two. Doghouse is another well-written and executed horror-comedy that doesn’t skimp on either side of the equation. It has strong performances, good gore, a great pace, and the humor never takes away from the horror.
Doghouse is the story of what happens when a group of guy friends get together to console one of their own who’s just gone through a nasty divorce. Vince (Stephen Graham) is depressed and just can’t seem to get over the divorce so his buddies all gather up at the local pub, get pissed to the t**s and hire a driver to take them out to a remote town in the woods where they can do some serious male bonding (translation: where they can drink themselves into a coma and get away from their miserable wives and girlfriends). As the film opens we see each guy as he’s getting away for the weekend; each friend we meet has a more shrewish girlfriend or wife than the one before. Director Jake West, who gave us the entertaining yet slightly disappointing Evil Aliens (2005), is obviously going for broad-stroke, stereo-typical portrayals of women here. Some may find this annoying, but I thought it fit perfectly into what West was setting out to do: Creating the ultimate battle of the sexes flick.
The gang arrives in the little town of Moodley which is of course in the middle of nowhere. As soon as they get to Moodley their female driver Candy (Christina Cole) is instantly hit with what looks to be an allergy attack (later this “allergy attack turns out to be the virus that turns her into a man-hating psycho cannibal). But since the town looks deserted they tell her to stay put as they are gonna look around town. It doesn’t take long before the guys run into a large gang of very fucked up and violent women. Now for the big question: Are the women in the town zombies? They look and kinda act like zombies but I’d have to say no; they’re not really zombies. A zombie is a reanimated corpse that craves human flesh/brains; these women never really died but were transformed into what one character describes as “pissed off, man-hating, feminist cannibals.” And MAN are they pissed off. Even the slightest glimpse of a man sends the women into a homicidal rage. And as we can see with the driver Candy, it doesn’t take getting bitten to turn into a zombie. Whatever it is that is “turning” these women, it’s airborne and in the atmosphere. Nice touch West.
The infected women even go through two stages of transformation. The first has them looking like your standard “zombie.” But about half way through the film the women go into phase two in which they mutate into stronger, faster, and more intelligent killing machines that hunt in packs. Even though these broads aren’t zombies, I like to think of this flick as a really nice twist on the zombie genre. The infected women here are friggin’ brutal: There’s one who uses scissors, another who wields a huge sword, and another who carries around an axe. Great stuff.
What makes this one work so well is that all the male characters are likable, despite their varying degrees of douche-baggery. Neil (Danny Dyer; who was in 2006’s Severance and is in the upcoming remake of The Asphyx) is definitely the king douche who sees women solely as playthings for his libido. But he also plays the role with enough charm that you can’t help but like him. As the guys try and figure a way out of the town they get into a lot of trouble and only manage to attract more and more infected women. And for a small town there’s A LOT of chicks living there. If I was single I’d be considering moving to Moodley … ya know; if they cleaned the girls up a little.
Jake West (who also serves as editor) keeps everything moving along at a great pace. The dialogue is fast and smart and West never misplaces the humor and screws up the horror. We get some damn fine horror scenes of the women attacking. For my money the best horror-comedy has to be An American Werewolf in London (1981). I’ve never seen another movie so successful at having you laughing your ass off one moment and then screaming in fear the next. Doghouse manages to do this. In one scene the guys have holed themselves up in a safe place and then proceed to start talking about which of the infected girls, that are trying to KILL them, they think are hot and would like to bang (“The one with the scissors is gorgeous”). It’s a really well-written scene that totally works. All the guys out there will be able to relate because we’ve all had stupid conversations like that before with out buddies. And as quickly as that scene begins it ends in the women brutally attacking the guys.
I would have liked to have seen a bigger body count, but I understand that if West started killing off the guys too early we wouldn’t have gotten such great dialogue. And one of the guys Graham (Emil Marwa) was gay, and I think something more clever could have been done with his character. But these small criticisms aside, this is a solid movie that will definitely entertain. The funny parts are hilarious, the horror scenes are scary and tense, and the zombie make-up and gore is excellent. And for the seasoned zombie-movie-watcher, keep your eyes open because there’s a ton of references (both visual and audible) to such classic zombie films as Dawn of the Dead (1978), Evil Dead 2 (1987), and even more modern zombie flicks like The Dead Hate the Living (2000).
This is a fun and entertaining flick that revives my faith that a well done horror-comedy can still be made. Ya just apparently have to make it in England!! Check this one out.
Director: Jake West (and editor)
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 6 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 4 out of 5 brains (I REALLY wanna think of this as a zombie flick)
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer