“Like Dogs” is a clever and compelling psychological horror film that once again proves the adage that humans are the scariest animals.
Remember those lectures about the importance of things like ethics, informed consent, elimination of personal bias, and “first do no harm” back in Psychology 101? Apparently, the orchestrators of the behavioral experiment driving the plot of Like Dogs (2021) don’t jibe with such lofty ideals. To them, science is a means to an end, and for those trapped in their twisted view of it, it’s an experiment in terror.
Annabel Barrett leads a small but competent cast through this clever psychological thriller that features enough frightening imagery, dark goings-on, and gore to please any horror fan.
She plays Lisa, a college student whose beauty and strength-of-will make it very easy to root for her as a protagonist. In a role that definitely demands it, Ms. Barrett brings more than enough intensity and leading-lady chops to carry the film.
When she is abducted by gas-mask-wearing individuals and placed in a concrete cage in a dog kennel with nothing but her underwear, a hamster bottle for water, and a disgusting-looking plate of processed meat, the nightmare is just beginning; and everything may not be as it seems.
Soon joining her in such deplorable conditions is another human Guinea pig, Adam (Ignacyo Matynia), who may or may not know more than he is letting on.
And so the real experiment begins.
Those running the show, including Ryan Tran, Shay Denison, and Katy Dore (whose commanding presence lights up the screen) may be in over their heads with the implications of what was originally supposed to be a simple behavioral study of a bunch of college student volunteers.
Will the real purpose behind this harrowing scenario, each stage more troubling than the last, be revealed before it’s too late, or will the sick obsessions of those in power destroy those they oversee?
There are several unexpected twists and turns in this film, and if you’re not careful you may find yourself rooting for the bad guys then feeling guilty about it, then shouting WTF at the screen.
There are tough questions asked about what it means to love someone vs. being in love with the idea of them. There are frightening implications about how far we might go in our obsessions if we thought we could get away with it.
There is also a subtle reminder woven throughout the picture that science is not the ultimate authority.
Also, there’s an exploration of the idea that once you start crossing lines in an effort to establish a biased premise, other lines become easier to cross – and you may find yourself past the point of no return and playing the role of the monster in your own morality play.
Ah, and there is death. Lots and lots of death.
In other words, Like Dogs is a fun, well-wrought psychological horror movie that writer/director Randy Van Dyke should be proud of.
Free on Tubi (for now), don’t miss this one.
Even if psychological horror isn’t your thing, think back to the infamous head-crushing scene in The Toxic Avenger and know that if you sit down like a good doggie for this one, at least some of your time will have been well spent.
Would I lie? Have a Scooby-Snack.