Have you ever wanted to lock someone up in a cage so that you could express your love for them? No… but that’s because you’re not a psychopath. Carles Torrens’ Pet—only his second feature film—is a demented little tale that explores love through the eyes of a hopeless man with a damaged mind. It’s no doubt an entertaining way to spin a story about terror-infused romance, but the longer it goes on the more incoherent it becomes. In it, a man who bumps into an old crush and subsequently becomes obsessed with her, leading him to hold her captive underneath the animal shelter where he works.
What’s interesting about this movie is its portrayal of obsession and the way it can drive a person mad. If there’s one thing that I liked about Pet, it was the way it takes a seemingly normal guy—one that cares deeply for animals—and how quickly his normalcy falls apart. This guy has been meandering through his entire life without hurting anyone, but as soon as he sees this girl he completely comes undone—like he had been suppressing these urges for a very long time before he finally snapped. It’s a scary thought, how easily someone can lose that battle, and I thought Pet did a good job of interpreting that.
But really the movie doesn’t start until he has Holly locked in a cage—that’s what we all came here for, right? Much of the film takes place in this small room with an even smaller cage bolted to the ground. And because the film is very isolated in its setting, Torrens smartly turns the narrative on its heels, presenting one twist after another. It’s a great way to keep a small film like this, especially one that feels claustrophobic in its atmosphere, engaging and one step ahead of the audience.
A lot of the reason why the film finds success in staying ahead of the audience is through Ksenia Solo’s performance as Holly—she’s not some damsel in distress, but rather a chameleon that toys with the man that captured her. It’s hard to really dig into her character without spoiling the film, but I will say that neither the predator or its prey are what they seem. The dynamic between the two, while being totally flawed and impossible to like, adds a fantastic layer to the story.
Unfortunately that’s where the good ends and the bad begins, because the longer the film goes on the more disjointed it gets. It’s like it kept trying to one-up itself, resulting in an uneven final act that can only be described as a total, nonsensical joke. Being ridiculous is one thing, but being ridiculous and not even trying to make any sense of it is something else entirely. And the worst part about the ending is that its attempt to shock and surprise the audience one final time ruins everything that came before it—Pet has no interest in telling us how it got from point A to B, not because it wanted there to be some mystery left to the story, but because it was lazy and knew it made no sense whatsoever.
Look, it’s not all bad—Solo makes the film worth watching and its twists and turns are entertaining at the very least—as long as you go into it knowing that the ending, which happens to be the most important part of a story, completely drops the ball.