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FrightFest 2023: Good Boy Puts a Unique Spin on Dogs in Horror

Image provided by FrightFest

I’m not going to lie, when I first heard about Good Boy, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it. The premise was utterly bizarre and unlike anything I had ever seen before, so I didn’t know if this movie would be for me. I figured I’d just skip it and maybe catch it on a streaming service sometime later, but apparently, fate had other plans for me. I came across the trailer soon afterward, and I did a complete 180. I thought this film looked pretty good, so I decided to give it a shot. I requested a screener right away, and after getting the chance to watch it, I’m happy to report that this movie does not disappoint.

Good Boy was written and directed by Viljar Bøe, and it stars Gard Løkke, Katrine Lovise Øpstad Fredriksen, Nicolai Narvesen Lied, and Viljar Bøe. The film is about Christian and Sigrid, a couple who meet on Tinder, and when they have their first date, they hit it off immediately. It looks like they’re about to start a perfect storybook romance, but they soon run into a little problem. See, Christian has a dog, but it’s not really a dog. Rather, it’s a guy named Frank who dresses like a dog and acts like his pet 24/7, and Sigrid is understandably put off by this unconventional arrangement.

She decides to end the budding relationship, but a friend convinces her that she’s just being narrow-minded. So Sigrid agrees to continue seeing Christian, and for a little while, things seem to go pretty well. But soon enough, the true nature of Frank and Christian’s relationship comes to light, and the entire story takes a horrific turn for the worse.

At this point, I know what some of you are probably thinking. What woman in her right mind would continue dating a guy who has a person as a pet? Calling that a huge red flag is an understatement, so I suspect that some viewers are going to have trouble buying into the outlandish premise of Good Boy.

A person petting a guy in a dog suit
Image provided by FrightFest

And I get it. I had the same eye-rolling reaction to Sigrid’s decision to keep dating Christian, and a lesser film probably would’ve lost me right then and there. But not this one. I was so intrigued by Frank and Christian’s odd relationship that I needed to see where the story would go. That mystery kept my eyes glued to the screen right up until the big reveal, so I was able to overlook Sigrid’s questionable judgment and just go with the flow.

On top of that, the two lead performances in Good Boy are excellent, and that also helped me get past Sigrid’s iffy decision-making. Gard Løkke and Katrine Lovise Øpstad Fredriksen make Christian and Sigrid feel totally real, so you almost can’t help but buy into them and their relationship, poor choices and all.

And that’s really important because, for the first 45 minutes or so, these characters’ budding romance is the heart and soul of this film. Sure, the mystery surrounding Frank looms pretty large in the background, but the story centers around Christian and Sigrid. It’s primarily about them getting to know each other and deepening their relationship, so it plays more like an offbeat drama than a legit horror movie.

It’s only in the last 30 minutes or so that the horror really kicks in, and when it does, it’s worth the wait. It comes to the fore in an unexpected but hard-hitting way, and once it’s there, it remains front and center until the credits begin to roll. In fact, I was on the edge of my seat for the entire third act of Good Boy.

Seriously, this part of the film is an absolute masterclass in tension and suspense. The sh*t could hit the fan at any moment, so you’re constantly bracing yourself for a violent outburst from one of the characters (but I won’t say who!). It makes even the most mundane activities feel utterly harrowing, and Writer/Director Viljar Bøe does a great job of playing into that anxiety and exacerbating it in some really clever ways.

A woman crying
Image provided by FrightFest

Then, when Good Boy goes all-out on the horror, the movie gets even better. It’s pretty brutal, but it’s not quite what you might expect. It’s mainly psychological, so there’s barely any blood in this movie. Granted, there’s a physical element to it as well, but even that’s more psychologically torturous than physically agonizing.

But don’t let that fool you, psychological torment can be just as effective as gory violence, and that’s definitely the case here. The last 15 minutes of this film are amazing, and when it ended, I was actually a bit disturbed. I felt like I needed to go watch something happier and more upbeat, and while that might be a little off-putting to most moviegoers, it’s the kind of ending we horror fans live for.

On the negative side, I have to be honest, I don’t really have too many criticisms of this film. Sure, Sigrid’s decision to stay with Christian wasn’t entirely believable, and there are a few other moments that raise some similar questions, but in the grand scheme of things, those are pretty minor complaints. On the whole, the good in this movie far outweighs the bad, so if you’re looking for some good new horror to watch, I highly recommend that you check out Good Boy.

Good Boy played at FrightFest on August 28, and it’ll be available to general audiences soon afterward. In the UK, it’s set to be released on digital platforms on September 11, and in the US, you’ll be able to watch it in theaters and on digital platforms on September 8.

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Written by JP Nunez

JP Nunez is a lifelong horror fan. From a very early age, he learned to love monsters, ghosts, and all things spooky, and it's still his favorite genre today.

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