The psychological horror thriller “Pet,” directed by Carles Torrens and written by Jeremy Slater, takes a familiar trope and turns it on its head. The caged woman, imprisoned by a male captor, is unfortunately an image seen all too frequently in horror and possibly even more frequently on the news. “Pet” plays with the power dynamic inherent in this scenario, imagining a situation where the prey might be more dangerous than the predator.
Dominic Monaghan plays Seth, an awkward animal-shelter janitor obsessed with a high school crush, Holly (Ksenia Solo), whom he runs into on the bus. After several failed attempts to pick her up, Seth’s masculinity is bruised, and he turns to more extreme measures. But he bites off far more than he can chew with the mercurial Holly.
“Pet” isn’t much more than a twist on an old conceit, and the character beats are painted with overly broad strokes, but it’s sharply shot with a crystalline sense of unease, and Monaghan and Solo lean into their creepy performances wholeheartedly. The constant power flipping allows for some interesting explorations of both the misogyny and misandry demonstrated by the main characters, and the way they justify their actions through the philosophical lens of love and sacrifice. “Pet” is a modern-day fable of unchecked desire that descends quickly into a bloody, morbid cautionary tale.
Rated R for strong bloody violence, some grisly images, language and brief sexuality.
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7