Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Battle of the Sexes

Film: Doghouse
Format: Streaming video from Tubi TV on Fire!

It’s not easy to make a new and original zombie movie these days. Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead were relatively original, and The Girl with All the Gifts was very different in many respects, probably the pinnacle of innovation in the subgenre for the last decade. Innovation isn’t always necessary, of course. Train to Busan is straightforward and almost entirely plotless, and it’s fantastic. And that brings us to 2009’s Doghouse, a film that desperately wants to ride on the Shaun of the Dead coattails, albeit half a decade after the fact.

The big innovation for Doghouse is that our zombies are exclusively women, so our main characters are going to be exclusively male. Vince (Stephen Graham) is going through a divorce. His friends decide to cheer him up by taking him to a tiny little village called Moodley, where the women are said to outnumber the men four-to-one. Friend Mikey (Noel Clarke) has managed to secure his grandmother’s house for a few days, and so off the crew goes. In addition to Vince and Mikey, we have Neil (Danny Dyer), Matt (Lee Ingleby), Patrick (Keith-Lee Castle), and Graham (Emil Marwa). The seventh member of the group, Banksy (Neil Maskell) has a number of problems and won’t show up until the third act.

Anyway, the group minus Banksy piles into a rented bus driven by Ruth (Christina Cole), who agrees to be called Candy thanks to a generous tip. They arrive in Moodley to discover that it appears abandoned. A little more investigation reveals the terrible truth—the women have been turned into cannibalistic zombie-like monsters and the men are all dead, most of them horribly butchered. The only man still alive in any real sense is Gavin (Terry Stone) a sergeant who likely knows more about the situation than he is letting on. The situation becomes much more serious with it turns out that Ruth/Candy has become infected and turned, and is on the bus, preventing them from getting on and leaving the town.

So, the setup is at least interesting. There is a definite “boys vs. girls” feel to this. The problem is one that is going to be obvious without me saying much of anything—since the only perspective we’re going to get here is that of the men, this dives head-first into misogyny quickly and never really surfaces for air. Just how deeply it dives into that is worth a spoiler tag—but keeping in mind that this movie really goes for the “women bad” mantra, you might well want this one spoiled.


Near the end of the movie, when about half of the men have been killed off in one way or another and we’re left with (we think) three survivors, Vince—who is the one getting divorced—has something like an epiphany. He says to his remaining friends, the two who before the trip were almost certainly the biggest misogynists, that he’s going to start acting toward women like they do, since all of the men who “do things right” have been killed off. Eventually, we find that a fourth has survived, and it’s Graham, the one member of the group who is gay, and thus doesn’t have romantic relationship with women. Doghouse literally rewards misogynistic behavior with survival of the characters in question.

* * * HERE THEY COME! * * *

The problem here is the missed potential. There are a lot of possibilities with this premise. Rampant misogyny was certainly one of those possibilities, but it wasn’t the only one, and there are definitely some better options. There are a couple of fun ideas nonetheless. It’s not a huge surprise when we find out this is the equivalent of chemical/biological warfare designed to turn one half of a population against the other half. That’s something that could be explored. Instead, it’s a setup for a joke—the biological agent that turns the women into cannibalistic proto-zombies is in the laundry soap…because only women would come into contact with that.

It’s further disappointing because Doghouse has some talent in it. Lee Ingleby, Neil Maskell, and Stephen Graham have some solid credits on their resumes (Graham’s includes playing Capone in Boardwalk Empire), and Noel Clarke had a solid run in Doctor Who. It’s exactly what I expect from Danny Dyer, though.

Why to watch Doghouse: It’s a zombie movie.
Why not to watch: It’s more misogynistic than you’d think possible.


  1. Oh no, Danny Dyer. I've only heard about him through Mark Kermode's reviews as he always shit on him.

    1. Kermode's takedowns of Dyer are the stuff of legend. The only thing I've remotely liked with Dyer is Severance, and true to form, he plays a misogynist and is the worst part of the film.

  2. Yikes. I think I would hate this. lol