Waldo the Dog (2010)

Description (from imdb.com):
A guilt and shame ridden mentally unstable young man wears a dog mask in order to cope.

Major Cast:
Rook Kelly as Waldo, Jaquelyn Xavier as Jaquelyn

Special Features:
None (Screener)

Written by Kris Canonizado, Rook Kelly, and Jaquelyn Xavier
Directed by Kris Canonizado

Hmm.  WALDO THE DOG is… um… it is… well… hmm.  WtD is… well, for sure, WtD is hard to classify, hard to describe, and hard to forget.

WtD is a very warped love story between a mentally unstable man in a dog mask and the young girl he obsesses over.  This love story is packaged in a drama, smack-dab in the middle of a revenge thriller.  With beatings.  And angry kids.  And there is some low-level professional wrestling as well.  Where to begin?

The story begins with the end, and then jumps back to the beginning, where young Jaquelyn has filed a restraining order against a stalker that eventually rapes her.  Fast forward, and we meet Waldo – a mute, homeless man in a rubber dog mask – and get to understand his obsession for Jaquelyn.  Lucky for Jaquelyn that Waldo is always just a few steps behind, as he is able to jump in and intervene one night before she is raped again.  Their friendship blossoms into the aforementioned twisted love story, which gets more and more twisted by the end film, which finally explains the violence the film opened with.  Yes, I know this is kind of vague, but WtD is a film that slowly builds on its self, and I would do it no justice by sitting here and explaining everything that happens.

What I will tell you is this: WtD is a strange flick, but it is also a strong flick.  As a low-budget film, WtD should be held as a shining example to others of what you really can do with just a camera, a couple of interested people, some talent, and some time.

While I can’t be completely sure this is correct, I really feel that WtD was an improvised movie.  It felt like a flick where the basic story and plot elements were figured out, and the actors made up the rest on the fly.  If this was the case, this is a risky move, and if this is not the case, then WtD fooled me.  When making an improvised film, you may end up with cinematic gold, that rings 100% true of real-life and has no saccharine sheen to it at all.  Or, you may end up with two hours of people talking about random shit that, if you’re lucky, can be cobbled into a somewhat cohesive story about something.  WtD is much closer to the “gold” side of the spectrum.  While I did not feel that everything worked perfectly, WtD as a whole works.

WtD is an amazing feat of guerilla filmmaking.  It is apparent that many of the “day players” in the film had no idea they were in a movie, they were just reacting to the weirdness that is a man in a rubber dog mask.  The film was shot on the street, in fields, on the pier, in businesses, and somehow got away with all of that.  Guerilla filmmaking can be an awesome way to make a movie, and overall WtD is an awesome example of that form of filmmaking.  With the exception of a couple of props here and there, and a light mounted to the camera in the darkest of scenes, Lars Von Trier would have a hard time denying a Dogme 95 certification for this movie.  Unfortunately, guerrilla filmmaking also has its downfalls, and because of that, there are scenes in the flick that are too dark to see, too unsteady to follow, too guerilla to appeal to the average film watcher who is not acquainted with the idea of just picking up a camera and making a movie wherever the hell you please.

The fact that WtD was shot in HD will help it be more accessible to many people that would not normally watch a low-budget film.  Also in the positives for the flick is the sound quality.  The dialogue and ambient sounds were all well recorded, and were easy to hear and understand.  The music added was perfect; the perfect tone at the perfect time, I really enjoyed the use of score in this film.  On top of this, Canonizado also knows when to make it silent.  The lack of sound in some shots does more for the film than any music or foley ever could have.

My biggest issue with WtD was the length of the film as a whole, and the length of various scenes within.  WtD clocks in just shy of two hours, and there are parts of the movie that just drag.  When your lead character – for whom the movie is named – does not have a real line of dialogue until 1:34 into the film, it can be tough to move things along quickly.  I understand that.  But there were sections of the film that could have been pared down… a lot.  On the other hand, I do see how the plodding nature of the plot helps to build the story slowly to a greater “pow!” at the end, but still, it just lingers too long in some parts for me.  Also, I had a hard time believing that Jaquelyn would be open to trusting this obviously obsessive, mute, masked man into her life.  I think it would be hard for most any woman (and I am taking into account the fact that Waldo saved her from certain doom, still…) to accept this sort of person as someone they could not only like, but also trust; it would be especially hard for someone who had been raped as a teenager.  Yet, Jacquelyn pretty quickly reverts from her initial distrust and fear to quickly accepting the six-foot-plus hulking dog-man into her life.

Overall, WtD was unlike most anything I can think of.  It is dark (really dark), both figuratively and literally, but it still has some humor and happiness.  It is strange, but it still has some accessibility.  It is low-budget, but shot in HD with good sound so the quality of the film is not low enough to be off-putting to someone not acquainted with the low-budget world.  Overall, it’s an interesting exercise and an interesting outcome.  I look forward to see what else is up Canonizado’s sleeve.

Overall 7 / 10

WALDO THE DOG on the IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1615908/

WALDO THE DOG for sale: http://www.createspace.com/301459

WALDO THE DOG site on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/waldothedog

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