LIKE DOGS (2021)
Directed and written by Randy Van Dyke.
Starring Annabel Barrett, Ignacyo Matynia, Ryan Q. Tran, Shay Denison, Katy Dore, Nicole Bleacher, Dustin Miller, Chris Calabrese, Clay Coleman-Davis, Alan Maxson
After being abducted while on a morning run, Lisa (Annabel Barrett) is drugged and taken to an unknown location. When she awakens, Lisa finds herself wearing a collar chained inside a cement kennel. There she is given dog food in a bowl and treated as if she were a dog. Soon, Lisa finds that she isn’t the only one undergoing this treatment when she meets Adam (Ignacyo Matynia) who is chained up the same way a few kennels down. In order to keep their wits, Lisa and Adam form a bond with one another and plan their escape. But what is really going on here? And who is behind the masks of the people running this kennel for humans? The answers will definitely surprise you.
Upon first glance at LIKE DOGS, one might think this is another one of those low budget torture porn films that basically rely on grossout effects, high pitched screams, and very little when it comes to story. But LIKE DOGS is a deceiving little film. While one might think this is some low grade version of HOSTEL or maybe even some kind of pervy kink show, LIKE DOGS actually plays out in a surprising and smart way. There are multiple times in the script where the camera pulls back to reveal another layer as to what is happening to Lisa and Adam. And then about twenty minutes later, another twist reveals some new and interesting layer. While the budget is very, very low here, the time and work put into the script was definitely appreciated. Just like Lisa and Adam, I as the audience had no idea where things were going and the plot never failed to surprise me right up until the end.
It helps that there’s some solid acting going on here as well. Ignacyo Matynia is decent as Adam, who has a genuine charm to the way he delivers lines. But it is Annabel Barrett who is the real standout in LIKE DOGS. Barrett as Lisa, has a real charm to her. There’s a spark of unpredictability to the way she faces her challenges that makes her extremely likable. This is no easy task, as she is covered in grit and grime for most of the film and her character requires her to go through a complex series of emotions by the time this whole ordeal is through.
LIKE DOGS doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it is a great example of how a great script and solid performances can make a film shine despite very little money going into it. I recommend anyone who appreciates a good story over everything else to check out this often shocking and always entertaining little indie horror gem.