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BAXTER
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Reviewed by: Dave Murray

Directed by: Jerome Boivin

Starring:
Lise Delamare
Evelyne Didi
Francois Driancourt

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Baxter is a sociopath, plain and simple. He likes to torment people, and has a vicious jealous streak, especially when it comes to the attention paid to him by his owner. This is because Baxter is no ordinary nutcase. He's an ugly and tempermental bull terrier with a creepy inner monologue and a mean streak. And his new owner, a twisted kid obsessed with Nazi Germany, does everything to fuel the fire of his un-canine sized mania!
Is it good movie?
I was surprised, really I was. The dvd cover advertised a horror fest dominated by a rabid, insane mutt bent on nothing but human destruction. What this was however, was a different beast entrely. Baxter was a dark and often very black comedic look at the existential mind behind a jealous and sociopathic dog, and his treatment and interaction with a series of owners. And call me silly, but I actually dug this movie.

Told with a simple style and often from the point of view of Baxter the dog (his French inner monologue is creepy and funny at the same time), this story is at times both a comedy and a dark exploration of the mind of a sociopath, albeit in a very different package. We first meet Baxter as he waits in a dog breeder's cage, unhinged by his animal instincts. When he is given as a present to an increasingly introverted old woman, he forms an unhealty attachment to her that ultimately leads to her 'accidental' death. His next owners are a young married couple (who Baxter fantasized about from across the street), and some of the scenes as the dog contemplates the murder of their toddler are quite chilling. But it is his final owner, a seriouslt f**ked up, Nazi worshiping misfit, that will push Baxter to his breaking point. Taught to kill and hate by the boy, Baxter takes a break from his growing psychosis to bump dog parts with a cute little spaniel. But the cruel fate that the boy has for Baxter's offspring drive him to chuck the whole "man's best friend" gig and take his bloody revenge.

And aside from the narration from the point of view of the dog, that's it. It's an okay tale, but not a spectacular one. However, it's the twists of fate that make this movie more than it should have been. The ending in particular was not what I was expecting. It made the movie sit very heavilly in my head, which is the mark of a great horror movie. While for all intents and purposes this is not horror, I found myself profoundly disturbed by the ending (and whether or not the scenes of severe animal cruelty were real or just faked, I would be no less disturbed). Kudos to director and co-writer Jerome Boivin. He has created an unforgettable and ugly character that, despite his wacky madness and the fact that he was a dog, I found myself rooting for him by the end of the flick. This was not what I was expecting at all, but it was a pleasant surprise.

On the whole, the flick looked good, but the sound was shit. French mono? What the hell is up with that? The poor sound quality really detracted from what was otherwise an excellent independent movie.

And just a warning: Anyone who gets seriously upset by either realistic animal abuse and French films should leave this one alone. Everyone else should give it a try.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.78:1.

Audio: French (Dolby Mono), and subtitles in English and Spanish.
The Extras
Last Call
Well acted and nicely put together, this crazy tale of a screwed up dog and his interactions with multiple owners is definately not for everyone. But anyone who loves a different sort of horror movie, or things that push the envelope in terms of how a story is told, will enjoy this movie. And seriously, how much more different can you get than a movie about a crazy pit bull who theorizes, plots and obsesses in french while being trained to kill by a kid who loves Nazis, but told from the dog's POV. Nicely insane, if you ask me.

And buyer beware...the dvd cover is slightly misleading, as baxter is hardly a "killing machine". This dog kills a total of one person in the flick, and most of the time just fantasizes about killing everyone else while licking his...well, I did tell you he was one messed up poochie, didn't I? He's more like a brooding machine, but oh well, I still liked the flick!
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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