Good Boy

You’ve got to hand it to Good Boy; it’s got a completely original story. This Norwegian film introduces us to Sigrid (Katrine Lovise Øpstad Fredriksen), a pretty, perky graduate student who arranges to meet a guy she connected with on Tinder. She shows up for the date in gym clothes. The guy, Christian (Gard Løkke), is in a suit and tie. She’s casual and extroverted, he’s rich and a little stiff. They hook up anyway because that’s what Tinder is for, right? Sigrid feels scared off after their first encounter, but her best friend convinces her to overlook the issue and give him another chance.

What is that issue? It’s Christian’s roommate Frank (Nicolai Narvesen Lied). Christian does not refer to Frank as a roommate, he refers to him as “my dog.” Frank fulfills that role, wearing a dog costume that he never takes off, eating and drinking out of a bowl, and engaging in classic canine behavior. Such a sight would be enough to make any woman run screaming. Christian explains it away, talking about Frank’s childhood trauma and how he’s really just trying to help his friend out. Sigrid feels placated. Then Christian suggests the three of them go to his summer home in the country for a few days. What happens next is guaranteed to shock you.

Good Boy might sound like a comedy about a dude and his weird best friend. Nope, it’s a thriller. During the trip, Sigrid comes to realize there are hidden layers to the Christian/Frank relationship, none of them good. Suspense is built from watching her attempt to extricate herself from a situation that will definitely become incendiary and possibly dangerous if she simply walks away. The character has to be cunning and find a way to escape without letting on that she knows what’s actually transpiring.

Writer/director Viljar Bøe is portraying the idea that society often trains women to suck up men’s bullshit. Every time a red flag goes up, Sigrid ignores it or is convinced to excuse it away by others. Not even when the scenario becomes totally untenable does she stop walking on eggshells so as not to upset Christian. Hell hath no fury like a man scorned during an amorous pursuit, the movie says. That’s an interesting subject for a horror-adjacent picture, one that will ring a bell for many viewers and make others squirm in the discomfort of self-recognition.

At 75 minutes minus end credits, the story is fairly thin, and it misses out on an opportunity to go as deep into its central theme as it could have. Potential was there to say something scorching about the negative effects of toxic masculinity on women, rather than merely depicting it for the sake of generating tension. Nevertheless, it does generate significant tension, the performances are good, and the story ends on an extremely sick note. I admire it for that.

Good Boy is one of the wildest, most unpredictable genre films you’ll see this year.

out of four

Good Boy is rated R for some violent content and language. The running time is 1 hour and 19 minutes.