A Bulldog for Christmas (2013, dir. Henrique Couto)

It’s not often you come across a film that’s written, directed, shot and edited by the same person- even less when that same person casts themselves as a mischievous (and… British?) elf named “CHIPS!”.

EVEN LESS OFTEN when you find out the film was funded on INDIEGOGO because after making several horror movies Chips fancied his hand at a Christmas flick. These are beautiful signs that the DVD that’s fallen into my lap is to be treasured. Do you believe in fate?

A Bulldog for Christmas is a film seemingly not about bulldogs at all, just an am-dram cast of family members on a road trip in a big version of those ride-on cars at Morrison’s. The windows are all blacked-out which adds a hint of tension to this overlong scene, like inbetween tuning the radio the family might veer to their death on account of not being able to see shit. The youngest daughter Tippy looks like she really doesn’t want to be there (it me) and eldest daughter Sally is angry for no reason. If only I’d paid attention to the very natural line “you laugh but I’d make a great dog”.

Oh Frederique Couto! You sly devil you! Sally’s raised her last eyebrow and is transformed into a bulldog, FOR CHRISTMAS.

!!!

A brilliant thing to bear in mind is that throughout the film about the value of family, Sally goes missing for 48 hours and her family do not question her whereabouts or show concern at all. They are even less fussed that a dog has popped up in their living room. The dog calls them nerds a whole bunch but they’re like “hell, you’re better than our hell daughter, we’ll transfer our love to you instead with no bad consequences!”

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Couto shows off his horro-film chops when the middle daughter (who I’m sure has a name also) and her boyfriend go for a walk in the woods, where they speak to each other in dark glades whilst never facing one another. It’s very Twilight sans bite. The fact he stays on his knee in proposal-position when she starts talking about her dead grandfather is a…red flag.

There’s a lot to enjoy here, including the multiplicity of a living room used as airport terminal, office space, living room…the possibilities are endless! I was a bit perplexed though at the rando flashbacks to some horse ranch. There’s a grandfather-grandchild dynamic and the fact that the grandchild’s called Sally implies that it’s our own dog-woman Sally as a child, but… why the horses? The horses aren’t mentioned ever again! The complete lack of facial similarities between the two Sallys makes me think when CHIPS arrives to reverse the dog spell, he’s really using the other Sally as some replacement sacrifice… Is this another horror film? Rumbled, Couto!

Rating: HoHo/HoHoHo

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