Waldo The Dog (Kris Canonizado, 2011) rocks and rolls with a combination of dark humor, romance, and is a morbidly entertaining film. Waldo the Dog follows the story of a guilt-ridden, unstable man in his early twenties, who, in an effort to cope with his misdeeds, dons a dog mask effectively taking on the persona of a pooch. The opening Act introduces us to Waldo (Rook Kelly) as we are taken through his day-to-day activities ranging from auditioning to be a professional wrestler to finding various ways of earning money for survival. Waldo lives life as an outsider refusing to speak or engage in any social activities. The film frames the character as a lost soul looking for repentance for a heinous act of aggression. Through the development of Waldo’s character the audience learns of his voyeuristic obsession with Jaquelyn (Jaquelyn Xavier), a woman from his past.
I have to say this was a very unique yet at times seriously disturbing movie-viewing experience. On the one hand you want to cheer for the titular character but on the other you’re completely repulsed by his actions and the film’s narrative is structured to induce such an effect in the audience. I applaud the director’s choice of using the mobile camera, which I felt aided in the audience’s confused mixed emotions. By allowing the story to unfold with the camera predominantly focalized through Waldo, the audience is made into a voyeur alongside Waldo giving them a range of emotions such as anger, frustration, lust, and sadness. The film’s main theme of voyeurism takes on a new form: the audience watches Waldo as he follows
The film’s length is a major issue for me considering a majority of the narrative is told from the perspective of a speechless protagonist. What should have ideally been a film with a one hour forty five minute running time had fifteen additional minutes tacked on to compliment several extended, and at times, irrelevant sequences. These scenes did nothing to inform or improve the mode of narration and were little more than distractions to the plot.
Despite its overbearing running time, Waldo the Dog is a true exercise in independent narrative filmmaking exploring themes that include the nature of existence and forces the audience to evaluate our own morals while vicariously as Waldo evaluates his owns. The film is challenging but by the end you will appreciate its bold attitude and unrelenting stylistic approach.