Screening on Film
Directed by Bogdan Mirica.
With Dragos Bucur, Gheorghe Visu, Vlad Ivanov.
France/Romania/Bulgaria/Qatar, 2016, DCP, color, 104 min.
Romanian with English subtitles.
DCP source: BAC Films

Despite beginning with the ominous appearance of a detached body part bubbling up out of nowhere, Bogdan Mirica’s first feature silently, steadily sets the notorious slow-burn of the Romanian New Wave to scalding. A crime-thriller with the minimalist existentialism of a Western, Dogs also pays ample respects to horror, as a familiar plot of that genre comes into gradual focus: the city-dweller intruding upon a backwater rural town that operates by different, darker rules. The brooding, enigmatic Roman—played by Dragos Bucur of Porumboiu’s Police, Adjective (2009)—surveys the remote “wasteland” he has inherited from a grandfather with a sordid past, while the local police chief investigates accumulating, unnerving evidence of a known monster further unhinging when its kingdom is threatened. With surreal, absurdist detail and subtle, painstakingly etched tension, the penetrating realism of Dogs reaches deep into primal fears of the unknown and in particular, a menacing, corrupt wilderness scarcely under control, a vicious dog on a fraying leash.

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