The Movie Waffler Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - DOGGED | The Movie Waffler

Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - DOGGED

dogged film review
Returning home for a funeral, a student discovers a sinister cult on his island.

Review by Michael Vaughn

dogged film poster

Directed by: Richard Rowntree

Written by: Matthew Davies, Richard Rowntree (Story By), Christina Rowntree (Story By)

Starring: Sam Saunders, Philip Ridout, Tony Manders, Toby Wynn-Davies, Gregory Smith, Jo Southwell, Debra Leigh Taylor

I actually sought out the screener for Dogged based solely on the poster art, which really sells the film as a strange, even surreal horror nightmare, and I love British horror, so that's just a bonus. The reality though is something totally different.

dogged film

Sam (Sam Saunders) returns home from college for a funeral but soon discovers that he is embroiled in a strange cult plot that engulfs the entire sinister island. If the basic set-up/plot of cult dwellers on an island sounds familiar you can be forgiven for comparing it to The Wicker Man (1973). Eagle-eyed views can even spot a DVD of that movie in the film. Dogged does not outright copy the classic 1973 British film but is rather heavily inspired by it, and by doing so I think it not only sets its bar for itself pretty high but also fails to get out of The Wicker Man's rather substantial shadow.

The plot itself and its characters feel generic, and even the drama, which should have helped give the film much needed weight, only ends up missing the mark. While it does somewhat manage to tap into the eerie small island paranoia of The Wicker Man, it doesn’t go far enough to be effective and wholly original for that matter.

dogged film

Dogged plays with some taboo themes but feels like it's holding a lot back, and I wish it would have went for something a lot edgier. I will give the film props for having a nice sense of style, and director Richard Rowntree not only knows how to put together a film but can craft a thick sense of dread and haunting atmosphere. To that point though I will say the constant flashing quick cuts seem a bit overdone and more suited for a rock music video rather than a feature film.

Dogged does feature a nice atmospheric score composed by James Griffith. While the director shows he knows his craft and does employ some great moody visuals (despite the music video style edits/flashes), the story and characters are just too bland for me to get fully invested in the film. This is compounded by the fact the film clocks in at nearly two hours, and I found myself bored in some places.

dogged film

Is Dogged truly a terrible film? No. Its director knows his craft and the film certainly has a creepy style and a deliciously fitting down beat ending. But overall it lacks a lot in the writing department. It seems like something Ben Wheatley could have made a lot more successfully. I still really look forward to seeing what else Rowntree has in the works, as despite my criticisms, I feel he could grow into a great filmmaker. Rowntree's feature debut is by no means a bad effort, but here’s hoping this dog learns some new tricks.

Dogged is on DVD/VOD July 9th.

Michael Vaughn is a rabid horror and cult fan who turned that love into a career. He is a writer, blogger and film historian and now author of 'The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema' which Shock Wave Podcast named their pick of the month, and Chris Alexander of Fangoria called “recommended reading.”

His other credits include Scream Magazine, Fangoria and websites like Films in Review and Bloody Flicks(UK). Please follow his Twitter @StrangeCinema65 and Instagram @castle_anger.