Movie Review: Plague Dogs

Dogs running from helicopter
(Embassy Pictures)

Just how quickly can the second film based on a Richard Adam's novel accelerate from zero to complete insanity?
Very quickly. Ya' see, the same guys behind the beloved Watership Down film have taken upon themselves to animate yet another horrifying novel from that acclaimed author because why not? Once you mentally scar children you might as well sucker punch them with some good old fashion dog drowning and manslaughter. Kids love that stuff, right?

It truly is baffling as to how a normal person would find the need for this film to even exist. Who reads a book titled goddamned Plague Dogs and immediately thinks, "Kids are going to LOVE it when they see the partly eaten carcass of a man." I like to image that director, producer, and writer Martin Rosen, after  actively shoehorning as much trauma as possible as he wrote the script in pigs' blood while high on bath salts, signed a pact with the devil, vowing to only direct works that actively feed off of the innocence of children.

That said, I am not joking at all when I say that unless you want your kid growing up to be a comedian, you need to keep this movie far away from him.

The most drab depiction of The Lake District ever
Click Image to Enlarge
There Are Other Things in this Movie, Too 
With Plague dogs receiving more than it's fair share of attention for reasons that are bloody obvious for anyone that's been on the internet in the last week (This link will contain major spoilers), it's easy to forget there's an actual movie behind the more noteworthy scenes. Speaking of scenes, the scenery movie looks surprisingly good. In Plague Dogs, the drawn characters fit in amazingly well with the beautifully painted backgrounds, much unlike the constantly seizing characters in Watership Down. Granted, the animations aren't terribly smooth, but for the most part it's pretty stunning experience that tricks you into believing you're watching a painting in motion.

In fact, as far as visuals goes, the only issue that I find with Plague Dogs is that some fantastic scenes, like the one pictured above, are washed in depressingly cool light and drab colors. Yes, I know, a movie's tone is as important as anything else in the creation of a children's film, but when your movie's setting are the impressive hills of one of the most beautiful places on the planet, you sort of expect something similar on screen. It's akin to discovering that perfectly cooked burger you saw in the TV ad is, in reality, a turd patty slapped between two stale sesame seed buns. It's somewhat disappointing, to say the least.

Hey look, more blue!
Click Image to Enlarge
Seriously Fun to Watch
Let's just get this out of the way: the story is, uh, unconventional to put it nicely. Plague Dogs follows two dogs named Rowf and Snitter as they try to evade a horrible animal research facility, and really that's all you need to know in order to get any enjoyment out of this film. I haven't read the book of which Plague Dogs is based, but this film is yet another example of too much story shoved into too little time.

Each new event comes at you at the speed light, teeming with forgettable characters and locations, distracting you from what little character development of Rowf and Snitter there is.

In other words, the moment that you begin to care about these dogs, prepare to hop aboard the crazy train as insanity is immediately slammed in your face for the sake of shock value, violently grasping you by the throat, screaming "LOOK AT IT, DAMMIT, DON'T YOU TURN AWAY. DON'T YOU TURN AWAY!" And if you think about, in a movie that is famous for such image stills as "bloody face", "bloody hand", and "bloody carcass", who are you to argue?

Artsy fartsy man lighting up.
Click Image to Enlarge
Exactly, you are going to sit there with your eyes plastered to the screen and Plague Dogs knows that. To get a picture of how eagerly you'll watch Plague Dogs just to see what insanity will sucker punch you next, just pretend that the guy in the above image has his entire face dripping in sloppy, wet blood. Oh, also pretend that a dog killed him in the face just moments before. A dog, mind you, that is actively outwitting a literal army of soldiers in helicopters. With guns.

Honestly, those small facts alone will provide more than enough entertainment for a bored, possibly inebriated group of friends on a Saturday night, and yet the insanity is built upon throughout it's length.

The doggies swimming for their lives
Click Image to Enlarge
Worth Watching? As If You Need to Ask
And that brings me to what really makes this movie special. Its not the unique art or the numerous scenes that will have you setting records for the most amount of jaws ever dropped in one sitting, its that in Plague Dogs end, you may discover that you were actually caring about the the fate Scitter and Rowf.

Somewhere along the line, the entertainment derived from Plague Dog's pure insanity transforms inside of you, incubating emotional ties between you and the main characters; emotional ties that you never thought were there.

I'm not sure if this happens because of the saccharine music that plays towards the film's end, or because whenever bad things happen to dogs I automatically feel guilty. However the case, Plague Dogs takes everything about Watership Down that had you laughing at the gall of it's horror and mixes it with every emotion you felt during the first batch of Sarah McLachlan animal cruelty ads into one, potentially traumatizing movie that is sure to have you talking about it for a long time. That is if you're not rendered mute in a catatonic state from the sheer amount of gore and emotional trauma Plague Dogs will put you through. There truly is no halfassed trauma here; sack up or go home, kids.

See, parents? It's "movie magic"! Kids love that sort of stuff.

Do you hate children and/or want to sabotage the upbringing of your own child? Well check out PMI's review of Watership Down, you won't be disappointed. Also you can follow Plus Minus Infinity by clicking on the new, handy dandy buttons near the top of this page, and you can share this review with the hundreds of friends that you have with the sharing links situated all over the place. Please and thank you! C:


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