Hello, fellow horror fiends! I’m back with a review for a rather long awaited film. A little over a year ago I had the pleasure of checking out Richard Rowntree’s short film titled DOGGED. Now, after following the making of the film on social media for over a year, I finally got to check out the much deserved full-length version.
I have quite a mouthful to say about this movie, considering I’ve waited quite a while to finally see it, so here’s a brief breakdown of the plot summary:
“A boy returns to his small hometown/village from school to attend the funeral of a close family friend. The boy soon begins to uncover unexplained secrets of his village as truly evil intentions begin to unravel.”
As in the short, we still have Sam, the boy that returns back home. Only this time we have the understanding that he’s returned for a funeral. We’re also introduced to his parents, his father being quite the blunt asshole in my opinion. We also meet Rachel, the daughter of Father David Jones, who has a bit of a romance unfold between her and Sam; that of which becomes relatively short-lived for plot purposes. Everyone in the town is incredibly distant and keeps to themselves while also maintaining that small community feel. It’s hard to really pinpoint the most sinister character in this film as the whole town is pretty damn evil; however, I feel it’s safe to say (without spoiling much) that Father David Jones is the craziest asshole of them all.
As Sam continues to make his own decisions, despite the guidance of his family, he begins to quickly uncover some relatively sketchy shit. After attending the funeral, he begins to have questions that aren’t being answered by his father or any other members of the town. Because of this he stars to investigate on his own accord. This is when we start to realize there’s a bit of cult activity afoot. We also discover a dirty secret about Father David Jones’ son which results in a gnarly reveal, especially during the scene where you see him hitting on his little sister Rachel. That scene in particular made me shudder in disgust.
Just as in the short film, the cultists wear masks that resemble animals (fox, badger, rabbit etc). The animal masks, although typically played out, meshed incredibly well with the film and the plot, considering the secrecy of the island village that they vow to protect. I really appreciated how the masks looked old and matted (possibly with blood?) as it indicated that they have been used for years. The only fault I found is that there was no real reason given for the representation of the animal masks. That is one answer I was constantly asking myself considering that the leader, Father David Jones, wears a badger mask. What is the purpose or representation for this? Regardless, this curiosity was able to add another element of mystery to this film which I liked.
In terms of violence and gore, there was a really awesome scene that indicated a sacrificial ceremony where an individual that was captured was being gutted and ripped open resulting in Father David Jones rubbing this person’s bloody heart all over his chest. Overall, this isn’t a gory flick but that did appease my so-called “need” for gratuitous gore in horror flicks.
I expected the climax due to how well the film lead up to it but I did find myself still asking questions, questions that I will not disclose because they’ll obviously give away many spoilers. I think this is what make’s Mr. Rowntree an excellent filmmaker. Even with my questions, this film did not disappoint. If you have the opportunity to catch DOGGED at a film fest screening, don’t skip it. It’s fun, creative and gets your mental juices flowing as it’ll keep constantly keep you on your toes.