While you may have to swim the Bering Strait to see it (or, at least,
find one of the scattered showings throughout New York), Terry R.
Wickham’s Hair of the Dog shows promise of both its director and
writer-producer Timothy David Clark. While no masterpiece, Wickham and
Clark show that they have a strong handle on the genre and its tropes,
and the twisted sense of humor necessary to succeed in horror.
The downside is that the film cost $2000 and it shows. It has
none of the manic visual style of Robert Rodriguez’s $7000 El Mariachi,
but little does. And to be fair, it’s really hard to put together a
film for such a low price, let alone a film this engaging. Wickham and
Clark don’t show the potential of mad genius, such as the early DV work
of Guillermo Del Toro or some of David Lynch’s shorts, but Hair of the
Dog is a well-paced thriller with wit and some interesting music
(composed for the film by David Helpling).
Defense attorney Alex Blakely (Chris Weir) wakes up one morning
with the very words on his lips that scare even the most ardent merchant
of the macabre: What happened last night? Alex has a black eye and a
dim recollection of a blonde with bulging biceps. Alex was partying
with his porn director pal (rape films are his “bread and butter”) and
can’t remember why there’s a bloody knife in the front seat of his car.
Luckily, his born-again neighbor is more than willing to help him
remember, with a short detour to pray with a porn star.
All of this shows that the filmmakers have the right quirky
idea, but they sadly lack the tone for their violent, odd-ball ending to
be much of a payoff. Up to that point the story plays like a long
Tales From the Crypt episode, which isn’t a bad thing, and the
filmmakers have the good sense to wrap things up quickly (the runtime is
only 45 minutes, just enough time to get in, do their thing, and get
out). Wickham seems more concerned with the story than attempting any
amazing feats with his digital camera, which (hopefully) shows that he
understands his boundaries and is actually interested in genre fare.
The acting is not great, though Weir is interesting enough as
the befuddled barrister, and Mia Troche puts in a really funny turn as a
porn star with, apparently, lower aspirations. In fact, one of her
videos (maybe the worlds first porno with no nudity whatsoever) is
laugh-out-loud funny, and counter-points nicely with the action of the
story. Actually, as the press notes brag, the film has virtually no bad
language and zero nudity. Neat trick for a horror film about a porn
Overall, Hair of the Dog gets an A for effort, and will
hopefully be a stepping stone to larger budgets and more carefully
realized projects in the future.