Film review: White God Print
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 27 February 2015 13:26

Director: Kornél Mundruczó Cast: Zsófia Psotta Certificate: 15

Rise of the Planet of the Dogs. If your ears have already perked up, then White God is for you.

The Hungarian film takes the suspense, humour and scares of sci-fi and combines them with, well, dogs. 13 year old Lili loves her pet, Hagen. But when her father refuses to look after the mutt - "mixed-breed", she corrects him - Hagen ends up a stray on the streets.

While she attends band rehearsals and sneaks out to search for her pal, Hagen falls in with a pack of wild dogs - and even wilder humans. He is quickly kidnapped by dog-fighters, who force him into the backstreet ring along with other, unfortunate animals.

Eventually, though, something snaps.

Director Kornél Mundruczó doesn't shy away from the nastiness of it all; the dog fighting sequences are so brutal they make Amores Perros look like The Aristocats. But that graphic approach is even truer when it comes to the second half of the film: an uprising that's part-fable, part-social commentary and 100 per cent terrifying.

The Hungarian hounds storm through the deserted streets - a eerily stunning spectacle that opens the film and prompts you to wonder why on earth man's best friend has become his worst nightmare. Zsófia Psotta's young girl glides through the chaos serenely on a bicycle; a sight that's at once both amusingly surreal and breathtakingly surprising. Mundruczó brings real flair to proceedings, cueing up horror film tropes galore, as Hagen gets his own back. But where footsteps in a corridor or silhouettes in doorways could be played for laughs, the earnest Psotta - and the very immediate threat of the non-CGI beasts - give this a chilling plausibility and a pointed bite.

A cautionary tale about the abuse of animals, Viktória Petrányi and Kata Wéber's screenplay, it's an unabashedly feral thriller that gnashes and thrashes its way through your nervous system, until climaxing with a bizarre, beautiful final shot that blares a haunting horn over the sea of rabid hunters. Rise of the planet of the dogs? The Birds with teeth? Homeward Bound for adults? From its haunting images to its fervent love of trumpets, White God is a monster all of its own. Paws-itively brilliant.