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  Doghouse Man Eaters
Year: 2009
Director: Jake West
Stars: Danny Dyer, Noel Clarke, Emil Marwa, Lee Ingleby, Keith-Lee Castle, Christina Cole, Terry Stone, Neil Maskell, Emily Booth, Stephen Graham, Victoria Hopkins, Deborah Hyde, Nicola Jane Reading, Joelle Simpson, Deborah Perry, Adele Silva, Mary Tamm
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Vince (Stephen Graham) is in the doldrums since his divorce came through, so his friends decide he needs some cheering up and suggest a trip to the country where they can all get very drunk for the weekend. Of course, they all have their problems with women to some degree or another, with Neil (Danny Dyer) professing that they all love him despite much evidence to the contrary, or Mikey (Noel Clark) heading for a divorce of his own because he has the temerity to disobey his missus and spend time with the lads. But stuff like that will be a walk in the park compared to what's in store...

Doghouse was director Jake West's third big screen horror movie, and took his distinctively British sense of humour to a script by comics scribe Dan Schaffer, although the subject of that might have been viewed as well-trodden ground by the time it was released. The success of Shaun of the Dead informed the action and the laughs, complete with loser humour, gory death and items of supposed emotional content, but to make it stand out they supplied a theme about the battle of the sexes to give it a contemporary kick.

Unfortunately, not everyone saw the way the blokes here got their comeuppance in quite the satirical manner that was intended, leaving West and company open to accusations of misogyny. The trouble with sardonic, critical humour was that if your audience was not in on the joke you could have a bunch of viewers taking your opus at face value, and seeing as how much of the movie was taken up with female characters transforming into ravenous zombies - or zombirds, as the credits would have it - and having physical punishment meted out to them you could see how Doghouse could be misunderstood.

Above all, it was thrilling situations and huge laughs that this was meant to be delivering, or that was the idea anyway, but the fact remained this was derivative of many other zombie movies with or without the jabs at gender politics. Still, there were a decent amount of innovations and smart lines ("Today is not the time to stop objectifying women!") as our hapless heroes end up at Mikey's gran's village to relax in her quiet cottage only to find some shady biological warfare experiment has sent all the ladies round the bend, killing every man they see and feasting on their flesh. That alone marked this out as different from the norm.

But was it enough? Certainly the cast were willing, both to throw themselves into the action and to send themselves up as these lads overcompensate for their failures with the opposite sex by becoming as sexist as they can, in Neil's case at any rate, as they discover what it's like to really be on the receiving end of harsh female treatment that is more than a stern ticking off or even a broken heart. The main characters are rather too stereotypically drawn to represent various male types at first, but the actors managed to imbue a semblance of humanity into them, yet what West and Schaffer were actually telling us about the difference between genders was a bit of a muddle, going from one extreme to another in the interests of humour rather than thematic clarity. That said, if you wanted to see the usual zombie business demonstrated without bothering much about plot, then Doghouse was only too happy to give you that. Music by Richard Wells.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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