PET (October 13th)


YOU'VE GOT RED ON YOU TAKES PART IN THE 31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN CHALLENGE; WATCHING ONE HORROR MOVIE A DAY THROUGHOUT OCTOBER. SOME OF THEM OLD, SOME OF THEM NEW, SOME OF THEM HAVE JUST BEEN ON OUR SHELVES FOR YEARS GATHERING DUST, STILL IN CELLOPHANE...

Men eh? I mean, most of us are perfectly fine and decent but if horror movies are anything to go by, we're a bunch of bastards. Though in recent years the trend has shifted, for decades women have been the victim of a whole host of crimes committed by men. Heck, we even have an entire sub-genre (slasher) that's dedicated to psychopathic weirdos hunting down women. 'Revenge' movies also dip into all of this, albeit with wronged women turning the tables on their (almost always) male assailants and dishing out some payback. Women have had to deal with the threat of murder and sexual violence in horror movies since day one but there is something else that has been on the rise so much in the last few decades that laws have been changed to try and deal with it. A danger that is even more prevalent in this technological era we live in. And that is 'stalking'. This is all of course just a segue into me saying that today, I watched Carlos Torrens' Pet (2016).

This played at Frightfest a few years back and divided audiences a little bit. The central character of Pet is an introverted guy called Seth (Dominic Monaghan) who works at an Animal Control centre. One day he sees an old (and hot) high school classmate called Holly (Ksenia Solo) writing in a journal on the bus and strikes up a conversation. However after they part ways, Seth develops an obsession with her and trawls through her social media pages to find out as much as she can about her and her life. He then (awkwardly) tries to ask her out at the diner she works at but she rebuffs him. The next day he sends her a huge bouquet of roses and then follows her to a bar where he confronts her and is slung out. Holly soon becomes fearful for her life and with good reason. Because Seth has found a basement level in an abandoned wing of the Animal Control Centre and begins to build a large cage big enough to fit a human in...



I told you, men suck! Well, this one does anyway. Much of this film is uncomfortable. The first twenty minutes or so are because watching a man like Seth try and score with someone like Holly, who clearly isn't interested, is cringe inducing. There's something just horrible about watching someone persevere because they just can't accept rejection. Unrequited love and affection is something that most of us have experienced but any feelings of empathy vanish pretty quickly when he starts to behave like an absolute arse. The middle part of the movie (and beyond) feels just as grim because, well, it's about a guy who has abducted a woman and is keeping her in a cage. He's a deeply unlikely protagonist, so much so that he becomes the antagonist about ten minutes in. The problem that Pet has is that every other character is dislikeable too, including Holly (for reasons which I won't disclose) and it's a challenging experience watching a bunch of characters who you care little about. Perhaps the biggest issue with Pet is that it seems to encourage us to side with Seth in certain situations and when you are talking about a bloke who is keeping a woman in a rat infested cage and starving her, that's a big ask.


The film is something of a chamber piece, with Solo and Monaghan pretty much the only characters that matter here and you can't fault either of them in terms of performance. It's difficult to pigeonhole Pet into one sub-genre because it isn't the violent sexualised revenge flick that you may think it's going to be about thirty minutes in. It's a bit like a twisted horror romance and even though there is some blood and gore, it's tough to take much of it seriously after the midpoint twist which will greatly affect how much you enjoy the movie. I didn't think it worked entirely. I just didn't buy into it. If you can, then you'll undoubtedly enjoy it more than I did. Either side of this, it kind of sags a bit too. Once Holly is put in the cage, you hope that it could go somewhere new and different but it doesn't really do either. I saw the ending coming a mile off too, which is a shame. This all sounds pretty negative as I write this but the truth is that this is still engaging but doesn't quite fulfil the promise of its premise and ends up somewhere a bit too obvious. I'll level with you; there's a scene about five minutes in where Seth has the chance to stop a perfectly healthy (and cute) German Shepherd from being put down – and he lets it die. The film (and lead) was fighting a losing battle from then on.

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