Man Bites Dog DVD Review

Cover Art & Packaging: 7/10
A disturbing image of a man, a gun, blood and a baby’s pacifier comes with a lot of hidden gruesome undertones. This film definately has a lot of gruesomeness, that’s for sure. The cover, as strong as it is, does not really lead you in the right direction. It’s more for shock value than anything else. It’s a striking design and will likely give, at least a few people, the wrong impression. But I give them credit for being brave.

Extras & Features: 7/10

  • 1993 video interview with the filmmakers – The writers/directors/producers of the film talk about their motivations, ideas and impressions of public reaction. These interviews are fly by press conversations with the film making trio. You won’t find the glossy Entertainment Tonight type of sit down with this crew. Most of the time they are on the move, in a public doorway or standing on a street side. It’s always cool to see and hear from the film makers. It adds better understanding of what they were hoping to achieve.
  • No C4 for Daniel-Daniel, a student short by the filmmakers – An earlier short film by the trio that does not have the cohesiveness as Man Bites Dog has. It attempts many things, none of which I’m quite sure about…haha You have to see it for your self to know what I mean. It surely does show you this crew’s sense of humor and irreverent attitudes.
  • Stills gallery – Photos of the production process. Behind the scenes of some of the more gross and gruesome special effects needed to show the life of crime the lead character is showing off to the mock documentary film makers.

The Movie: 8/10
A film about a film about a serial killer is an interesting concept. The main characters of the film are the film crew and Ben, an active murder/serial killer. The filmmaker say that Ben could have been a door to door sales man for all it matters, the story is not focused on his violence, but on the film being made about him. I have a tendency to always agree with creators of art, writers, directors, etc. This time, however, I have to disagree. The edgy intrigue of this film comes from three things.

1.) It’s made to look like a rough cut documentary with all the charm of Blair Witch and personality of a Discovery Channel special.

2.) The relationship between the film crew and their “subject” grows increasingly close to the point of sucking the crew into Ben’s lifestyle. Undoubtedly a parallel to the fact that we, the audience are drawn more and more in as the film progresses, not matter how offensive or disturbing the images get.

3.) The plain and simple gore and violent images of people being killed by Ben in such an unemotional, detached way is like a magnet. If Ben were a door to door salesman, the act of selling a vacuum does not exactly draw the same reaction as murder and general chaos.

This is a subtitled film. If you speak French, cool, turn off the subtitles and enjoy. For the rest of us it’s excellent that the translation is even more accurate then films have been in the past. I love films that are in languages other than English. I’m not sure what the appeal is exactly. I guess there is always just that much of a difference between the way I see and understand the world and anyone from other parts of the planet. It’s exposure to different cultural beliefs and even new twists on things we have in common. Don’t shy away from films because they have subtitles. Go for it!

The film seems to be trying to point out our voyeuristic desires to watch even the most unpleasant things as long as they are presented by the media in a way that is safe and semi “entertaining”. It’s been ten years since this film was made, but that statement is so much more valid today.

Ben, the star of the movie is charming and intelligent. He breezes through his life as if he were a clerk at a grocery store. He rattles off details about things like weighting down bodies when dumping them into a body of water the way a chef might explain how to prepare a lobster. He is comfortable and even proud of his accomplishments. It’s a brilliant character to put right at the front of the story. He’s not hidden by some investigation or montages of news reels like in a lot of crime movies. He’s the one you are looking at at all times. In the film he, Ben even becomes the one who funds the movie. They joke that he is the Producer. This adds even a deeper layer to the film. At that point you are basically watching home movies being made of such heinous crimes it’s both awkward to watch and because you convince yourself it’s just a movie, impossible to turn away from.

I was not as shocked or intrigued as I was when I first saw Blair Witch. The innovativeness of both films is very commendable, but if I had seen Man Bites Dog ten years ago when it was made I might have been more impressed because of the uncharted territory of the concept.

Value: 7/10
Not a lot of extras for the price, but an avant-garde addition to a serious collection. For $20 you can get Man Bites Dog and show it to people just to get their reactions. That would be worth it to me!

Over All: 7/10
It’s exciting to see smaller films that have an impact. I admire the makers of this and other independent films. Man Bites Dog is shocking if you put away your jaded view of the world. It’s well produced and directed for sure. The acting has a few glitches, but that does not hinder the overall effect of the story.

Overall Score 7/10