Starring Paula Del Rio, Miguel Angel Jenner, Jordi Aguilar
Directed by Jose Luis Montesinos
Years ago one of the greatest pitches in the history of Hollywood was delivered for a film hardly anyone remembers. The movie was Man’s Best Friend, and the pitch was: “It’s Jaws… with paws”.
Now comes a clever Spanish thriller with a similarly brilliant tagline: Beware of the Dog.
The premise: haunted by the death of her sister, Elena, a young quadriplegic, has retired to a country house along with her father. There she has the help of a Belgian Shepherd service dog.
However, when tragedy strikes, the animal who is supposed to be her best friend, has contracted a strange disease… and has turned into her worst enemy.
This often compelling thriller is a film of two halves. It starts off well as the characters and premise are introduced. When the young heroine is left alone, what begins is not so much a ’cat’ and mouse game but a mix of Gravity, Cujo and the end of Aliens.
There’s also an element of What Lies Beneath as the heroine tries to stay alive despite limited movement. It’s a great idea and there are times it borders on greatness. But by the half way mark I’ll admit I’m a little bored.
In the hands of a genius like writer Brian Clemens, this would have worked far better, but there are just a few too many moments of a seemingly invincible antagonist causing chaos, and chances are animal lovers will hate it.
As good as Paula Del Rio is, and she carries 99 per cent of the film, there were a few too many scenes of her tackling her demons.
Thankfully the running time is spot on, and while Jose Luis Montesinos knows how to craft a tense thriller, there was something missing. It might have been the fact it felt so much like Cujo, or that there wasn’t enough material to sustain a feature.
However, in a world of formulaic thrillers this was an interesting variation on familiar themes, and I can see Hollywood adapting it for their own ends in the near future. Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown would be a perfect lead, though hopefully they’ll change the key predator. I much prefer my movie pets on the cuddly side rather than killer canines thanks very much.