VOD film review: White God
Ivan Radford | On 21, Jul 2015
Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Cast: Zsófia Psotta
Watch White God online in the UK: All 4 / BFI Player / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
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 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 (none of whom are harmed in the making of the film) – give events a chilling plausibility and a cautionary bite.
A cautionary tale about the abuse of animals – “the unwanted will have their day”, the film’s tagline declares, with a pointed political slant – writers Viktória Petrányi and Kata Wéber craft an unabashedly feral thriller that gnashes and thrashes its way through your nervous system, until climaxing with a bizarre, beautiful finale that leaves a haunting note lingering over the sea of rabid hunters. Rise of the planet of the dogs? The Birds with teeth? Homeward Bound for adults? From its ferocious images to its fervent love of trumpets, White God is a monster all of its own.
White God is available on All 4 until 17th June 2020. It is also available on BFI Player, as part of £4.99 monthly subscription.