While dredging around Netflix, every so often you come across a title which makes you stop and try to figure out what the film is about. White God (2014) is one such movie. The box art is a young girl riding on a bicycle away from a pack of dogs. Looks kinda indie. Could be horror. Could be an art house flick. Next you read the plot synopsis according to Netflix:
“When a cruel father dumps his daughter’s beloved dog, Hagen, out on the highway to fend for himself, Hagen not only survives the horror of abandonment, dog fights and starvation, but rouses an angry army of mongrels out to exact revenge."
Sounds like a Grind House version of Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. Right? Actually, White God is so much more. Between that review and a recommend from Andrew Jupin on the We Hate Movie Podcast, I’m all in.
Let’s get the first bit of business out off the way. Made in Hungary, the film is subtitled (if you let this detours you from watching films, you sadden me. Guilt trip over.). Moving on, to simply go off of the plot-line provided does a disservice to what an interesting direction Kornél Mundruczó went with this film. The story above is completely accurate, don’t be mistaken. There is a rough go-around for the dog Hagen to endure, though the character Lili (wonderful newcomer Zsófia Psotta) brings the audience on a parallel journey of growing up in a lonely world while searching for her abandoned friend. Playing the two as equals, both in importance and struggle, brings the narrative up a level from the typical horror fair audiences are used to. Honestly, I might even throw White God more into the Thriller realm (insert Vincent Price laughing). Slow at parts but never banal, simmering slowly before it's inevitable boil over, the film delivers.
Second bit of business, if you have any issues watching simulated animal cruelty in anyway (all under strict supervision. No animals were hurt. I checked.), you might want to skip this one. Though, the violence depicted is not for the sake of spectacle. Everything is handled in a very graphic yet, pertinent way. Hagen is not a monster, just pushed beyond his limits (he never goes full Cujo, so to speak).
That said, I give White God a big recommend. Not for everyone, but what films are. The film is beautifully shot, well acted and a dog movie that is neither pandering to children nor making a monster out of the lead, so to speak. So, if you’re in the mood for something a tad out of your comfort zone, this may be the dog film for you (also, a great way to guilt yourself into donating to an animal charity). Be your own critic and check out White God for yourself. Enjoy!