This psychological thriller follows a divorcee as he struggles to retain his parental rights, and sanity when his ex-wife announces her intention to move to the west coast. His past demons ultimately push him passed the point of no return, where he will come face-to-face with the monster he has tried to hide his whole life.
The Dunes seems to have been poorly received by a number of critics, and I am honestly trying to figure out why. Sure, it is definitely a slow burner. Sure, the four leads are broken people. Sure, there’s very little to enjoy where the plot is concerned. It’s a dark, broody film with an unpleasant story featuring a slew of fractured characters making poor decisions. All that negativity makes for a great film and if I’m being honest, I’d say that’s a pretty accurate representation of life in general.
The Dunes perhaps hit a little too close to home for me. I was around the same age as the kid in the film when my folks divorced. My father was a bit off his rocker and my stepfather and I never saw eye to eye. The trials and tribulations of those times still weigh heavily on my family today, so watching this felt a little like holding up a smudged mirror to my own past. I had some buttons pushed and was often left a little uncomfortable—but I believe that was the point. You were supposed to feel uncomfortable. You were supposed to put yourself in the shoes of the characters. You were supposed to question if you’d do the same thing; how far would you go to protect your kid? How far would you go to get your partner back? What are your boundaries? Do you even know your own limits? As a father myself, I cannot fathom the things I’d be capable of if I ever feared for the safety of my child.
The score has a great industrial vibe very reminiscent of that 90s NIN style. It’s grinding, visceral and uncompromising. A great soundtrack for a man trapped in the downward spiral, tightly wound and ready to snap. Like the lead, the score becomes more unhinged as the film progresses.
The cinematography was great too, with some shots quite disturbing and others astoundingly poignant, like the milk sequence. There was a lot to like and even more to take in. Even the colour tones change as the content of the film darkens, which was a nice touch.
The film’s themes are dark, heavy, and very real. It’s a fastidious look at domestic abuse and its lasting effects on generation after generation. More than simply a social commentary on domestic violence, The Dunes pulls back the cloth on touchy subjects like loving one’s abusers, abusive co-dependency, gaslighting, misogyny, toxic masculinity, and the objectification or even dehumanisation of women. It’s not an easy watch but I feel that is exactly why it’s a great film.
I really enjoyed the film and I definitely do not agree with its appalling IMDb score. This is a film with meaning and message, albeit one that may be hard to swallow. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Trailer and poster below.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.