Criterion Collection : Man Bites Dog (1992)

Alright, so I’ve now finished watching all the B’s in my collection and decided that I would start the C’s by taking a look at the only 3 Criterion movies that I own. What is Criterion? Well, apparently it is a collection of films that made an impact and were important to film in some way.. or something.

So, lets start things off with 1992’s Man Bites Dog.

I know what you’re wondering, what is that movie about Barley?

A film crew follows a ruthless thief and heartless killer as he goes about his daily routine. But complications set in when the film crew lose their objectivity and begin lending a hand.

So, yes, this is a found footage movie. Fret not though film snobs! It’s also french and in black & white, so you’re good. Seriously though, lets talk about this movie.

Most importantly, lets talk about the main character Benoit (played by Benoît Poelvoorde… get it? because it’s real. GET IT?!) The character is charismatic, deranged, and believable enough. He actually plays the narcissistic lunatic character really well and is engaging enough to get you through the movie. There are a lot of side characters, including the film crew, who don’t really deliver a ton of interesting performances, and it does make them less believable characters. That aside, they manage to make it work in some way. 

The story is a little bit slow-paced, and has some strange scenes of Benoit just..being crazy, but it does work and watching him live his ‘normal’ life does contrast pretty starkly to his killings.

The violent scenes in this movie are pretty disturbing, not because they are insanely gory or anything, but because of Benoit’s casual, passe attitude about the things he is doing. Even when he is killing a child, and talking about how he doesn’t like killing children, he seems to be doing just fine with the whole thing.

I will say that the film crew do seem to…be pretty ready to get involved, including one of the film makers actually shooting someone. It could just be that we don’t know what kind of people the film makers were before the movie, but even when members of the crew are killed, the others seem to recover and replace them pretty quickly.

The movie is dark, and goes to some pretty interesting places. It also was exceptionally unique and probably exceedingly disturbing when it came out in 1992. Though, in the age of Hostel, Martyrs and A Serbian Film, audiences used to watching people have their eyeballs blowtorched off are probably not going to find this movie entirely impressive or gross.

If you watch movies like I do, and actively try and put yourself into the shoes of the characters in the movie, then you probably kinda liked Open Water, and you’ll probably like this.

I know it turns up on lists of “OMGZSF THIS MOVIE IS FUCKEDZS” and stuff, and sure it’s pretty dark and there are some pretty disturbing moments, but there are movies that will get under your skin even more than this one.

With all that being said, is it worth checking out? Is it an important film? The short answer is… maybe?

I did enjoy the movie, and you probably will too. Or, you might not.

I will say this, the cover of the movie shows Benoit firing a gun and an explosion of blood, with a soother flying out of it. That doesn’t happen in the movie, and I was kinda..waiting for it..as fucked up as that sounds.

So, the verdict is..

FINAL GRADE: B-

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