Sunday 12 March 2017

PET review

One of the biggest crowd pleasers at last year's Frightfest in London, Pet, starring Dominic Monaghan as a lonely man living in LA who decides to lock a girl up in a cage, is out now on DVD.

After a chance encounter with an old classmate on the bus, dog pound worker Seth (Dominic Monaghan) starts to be obsessed with Holly (Ksenia Solo), stalking her online, visiting her at work and following her home. Deciding that she is in danger and he is the only one who can offer her salvation, he captures her and secretly cages her at the pound where he works. Holly begs for her freedom, but is there truth to Seth's motivations?

Monaghan has one of those faces where he can play either sympathetic or a creep with ease, and he often takes advantage of this to switch from slightly endearing oddball to full on sociopath. Likewise, the seemingly normal Holly appears to be your average young woman trying to make something of herself, but when confined to the cage she is able to call upon the darkness within herself and gain control by manipulating Seth's desire for her.

It would be conceivably hard to find new ground within the literal and figurative limited space her character has to work in, but it's a bold, gung ho performance from Ksenia Solo that offers a few interesting elements, including Holly's attempts to talk to her roommate (Jennette McCurdy) that raise a number of questions with intriguing answers.

The direct-to-video market is liberally littered with horror films and abduction dramas where a girl unexpectedly finds herself captured and caged, but Pet is among the best of the bunch, offering a new spin on where this well worn set-up could go. Feeding off the sado-masochistic nature of its premise, Pet works hard to sell its twisted romance storyline to reasonable effect, knowing the genre conventions we are expecting and trying to subvert them as often as possible.

Dark, twisted and occasionally very nasty, Pet is an enjoyably unpredictable thriller with two solid lead performances.


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