Matchup of the Day: Ex Machina vs. Dogtooth
Today we have two movies about escaping from a madman playing God – with dance numbers! Here we go with Dogtooth vs. Ex Machina.
EX MACHINA DANCE SCENE
Both Dogtooth and Ex Machina are about individuals living in a controlled environment. Reality, or a certain version of it, is dictated to them. In Dogtooth, three young adult siblings are completely cut off from the outside world by their pathologically protective parents. Even words that refer to what exists outside the wall surrounding their house are assigned different meanings – “sea” means a “leather armchair”. Every effort is focused on keeping them as ignorant as possible. The intent of their parents is to shelter them from “evil”, but their methods are warped.
Ex Machina involves a computer programmer, Caleb, who is invited to the remote home of his wealthy genius employer, Nathan. Caleb is introduced to the female humanoid robot, Ava, that Nathan has created. Ava has artificial intelligence based on Nathan’s experiments with how people use the search engine he invented. The goal is for Ava’s thinking to be somewhere between deliberate and random. Nathan tells Caleb to perform a Turing Test on Ava to determine if she is capable of self-aware behavior. Ava is kept in an isolated room. Caleb interviews her through a glass wall.
The only outsider allowed to interact with the siblings is a security guard who works at their father’s company. She is brought in to tutor the male sibling in the birds and the bees. As time goes on, she becomes lax in keeping her knowledge of the real world secret. Her biggest indiscretion is allowing one of the sisters to borrow two movies on VHS. This opens up her mind to parts of reality she never knew existed. When the sister shows her father the VHS tapes he bashes her over the head with them. He then goes to the security guard’s apartment and beats her with a VHS player for exposing the family to bad influences. (The security guard also introduces the concept of “licking” which the sisters interpret to mean something much different.)
Caleb is astounded by Ava’s ability to interact with him like a human being. He even begins to feel attracted to her, which see picks up on. Ava eventually starts confiding in Caleb. She tells him that Nathan is really up to no good. Prompted by Ava’s warnings, Caleb investigates the matter and discovers that Nathan may be a bit of a twisted Dr. Frankenstein. He also intends to replace Ava with a newer model. Caleb agrees to help Ava escape. Nathan, however, already anticipated that Caleb would be convinced by Ava. In fact, the reason he invited Caleb was to see if Ava’s A.I. was capable of effectively manipulating him. What Nathan didn’t anticipate is that Caleb already went through the procedures necessary to allow Ava’s getaway.
Without the security guard to satisfy his son’s needs, the father decides to use one of his daughters as a replacement (yes, horrifying). His son chooses the sister that was given the VHS tapes. She has no idea how to process what is expected of her, but knows that it’s wrong on some level. This pushes her past the breaking point. Her parents have told the children that once they lose a dogtooth they will be free to leave. She hastens her departure by busting out her tooth with a barbell and then climbs in the trunk of her father’s Mercedes. Assuming she had already run off, he drives off to work the next morning. Whether she escapes or not is up in the air.
Ava and Nathan have a confrontation once she is freed. With the help of another robot, who Nathan used as his maid and concubine, Ava kills him. She then covers herself in synthetic skin to look human. After putting on a nice dress, she walks out into the world she has never been allowed to see. Caleb is left behind locked in Nathan’s office. Whether he gets out or not is up in the air.
DOGTOOTH DANCE SCENE