Films that exist at the intersection of sex and horror often involve blood orgies, cannibalism, and death. And as a certified horny horror lover, there is nothing wrong with that. But sometimes, there comes a film that’s examining sex and horror but from a very different and almost sterile perspective. One such example is the recently released Norweign film Good Boy, written and directed by Viljar Bøe.
In Good Boy:
Sigrid thinks she’s met her perfect match with the charming and handsome Christian. But there is one catch—he lives with a man who acts like his pet dog. Trying to be open-minded, Sigrid continues the relationship but soon notices an insidious under-tone to Christian. Maybe ‘puppy play’ isn’t as innocent as it seems.
Dread Central: I’m so excited to chat with you all about Good Boy. Viljar, I would love to hear from you about where this idea came from.
Viljar Bøe: Yeah, I think I have for a long time had this idea of a person in a dog costume because I think that imagery usually gets a reaction out of people. But I didn’t really know what kind of genre it was supposed to be. So when I was developing it, I sometimes considered going a satire route or a comedy route or a horror film route. What ended up happening was that I tried to do a little bit of a mix between, especially between a romantic comedy and a thriller. So that was how I came up with that idea.
DC: So Gard and Katrine, I would love to hear what your initial reactions were when you first read the script and heard about what was going to be expected of you with Good Boy.
Katrine Lovise Øpstad Fredriksen: Well, when I got to audition, I had a romantic scene, so I thought this was a romantic comedy. And when I got through the second round, it turned out that it wasn’t a clear romantic comedy at all. But it was kind of a nice shock as well seeing that the script gave a lot of possibilities to play around with the character and different situations. So it intrigued me quite a lot to see that it could end up in something different than I thought at first.
Gard Løkke: I had to read Good Boy two or three times just to wrap my head around what was written. I’m trying to not spoil it because I want people to open their minds and hearts to the movie and not read too much about it, just watch it. But it was a challenge and I was met with my own thoughts about themes. I thought it was really interesting how I met the different characters with prejudices and how we could create an interesting story where people will develop their train of thought, and root for some people, then be met with their own prejudices.
DC: So what was that like for you then to get into Christian’s headspace? He is such a wild character throughout this film, so what was that experience like for you to find the character and then bring it to life?
GL: So initially I had a lot of talks with Viljar on how we could make Christian likable or sympathetic. I think just starting off being a young millionaire, you will think several things. But to answer your question, it was a real challenge. I spent a lot of time, months, trying to get his worldview and trying to figure out how you could see things from his point of view, which was really far away from me. I found it really intriguing.
DC: Cool. And I do have to ask, what was it like both directing a man in a dog suit and then having to interact with someone in the dog suit? Was it ever hard to get into character with that?
VB: Actually it is different people. So there’s one that’s Frank. Not to give too much away, but most of the time when you just see the dog in a mask, it’s actually the producer and costume designer, Marie [Waade Grønning]. She’s in the costume because we only had three days with the main actor who plays Frank. So she had to be kind of like a stand-in. She actually did most of the dog stuff.
It was more of a technical thing with the dog. You don’t want to have a person just be in a dog costume sitting on all fours all day. So you have to try to be strategic with doing all of the dog stuff quickly. And then you move over to the acting between Christian and Sigrid. It is a little bit of a boring answer, but we try to keep it to a bare minimum. One thing is uncomfortable to interact with a person in a dog costume, but it’s also uncomfortable being the dog to be in the dog costume.
DC: I can imagine walking around on all fours with your face covered is not the most comfortable experience at all. Before talking about acting with the dog though, how did you create the aesthetic for the dog?
VB: It was a mix. Yeah, we did just find different components and put them together. That had to do with resources, but also that just made sense. That would probably be how it would be in real life. It was also important that I didn’t want it to be a specific dog breed. I just wanted Frank to be Frank, there’s no other dog like him. I wanted to have more of an uncanny valley where it looks like a dog, but it also kind of doesn’t look like a dog to make it look a little bit more creepy.
DC: That mask is the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I have a ton of these horror masks and that mask is a nightmare.
VB: Thank you. [Laughs]
DC: Katrine and Gard, what was it like interacting with Frank? Was that a hard adjustment for you as an actor?
GL: As the character Christian, I worked a lot on how I interact with normal dogs because I love trying to find some similarities between normal dogs to this person in a dog costume. And it was really weird because the longer the person is inside the costume, the less human they feel. You only see their mouths. You only see a dog after a while.
KLOF: It was very dehumanizing. Yeah, it’s so weird.
DC: What a strange experience, a cool one at that, but just so different than what I feel like you’d ever have in another movie. What an interesting mental exercise that you were going through the whole time.
GL: And you kind of figure out how fast our brain adapts to strange things and how words and new experiences and new truths in both ways could be good or bad.
DC: Katrine, the same question. I love how quickly Sigrid’s character embraces Frank. For you as an actor, what was that experience like?
KLOF: Well, it’s kind of the same as Gard was talking about as well. But for me, I also had to play this skeptical thing, which was quite weird. In the beginning, I felt like I had to ask Maria, “Is it okay if I pat you on the head?” It felt so weird. But at some point, I think Sigrid, the character, really wants this to work. So in a way, she also accepts Frank because she wants to accept Christian. So I think, yeah, it was weird knowing that there’s a person inside this thing.
Good Boy is out now on digital and VOD.