1989, NR, 82 min. Directed by Jerome Bolvin.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., June 14, 1991

Baxter, a white bull terrier who manages to look both intimidating and cute at the same time, is a dog capable of rational thought. Bolvin's film follows this strange little animal as he is shuttled from one home into the next, continuously searching for the perfect master, one that will think as he does: in cold, calculating animal logic. Baxter's first master is an old woman who dotes on him alarmingly as she begins a descent into senility. She buys him a little bed, tries to get him to take baths with her, and eventually, as her madness progresses, refuses even to let him journey outside of the house. This is all too much for Baxter, and before you can say "it's a dog's life," the old woman is dead, her neck broken at the bottom of the stairs. Did Baxter do it? Probably, but Bolvin leaves the answer to that intentionally vague. His next home is across the street with a young pair of newlyweds. At first, Baxter is delighted with his new masters: they have the perfect smell and allow him to run about the yard as much as he pleases. Soon, however, a child is born, and their interest in the dog dwindles alarmingly. Baxter finds himself eyeing this new addition to the family with contempt, and soon decides to get rid of it. His plan fails though, and suddenly Baxter has a new master: a quiet, dark-haired young boy obsessed with the lives of Hitler and Eva Braun. This, finally, is the right one for the dog. The boy teaches him to sit, to heel, and later, to attack. "He commands, I obey," Baxter thinks to himself, content in his new-found fascism. Baxter, like its bullet-snouted star, is a tight, wiry little film, by turns both comic and chilling. His canine logic is disturbingly cool and animalistic; he seems to think like a junk-bondsman or some deranged CPA. Baxter goes where Benji and Lassie (and even Rin-Tin-Tin, for that matter) fear to tread, and in doing so, reveals exactly why your mailman should be afraid.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Films
SF snoozer never exceeds its "Lord of the Flies in space" pitch

Josh Kupecki, April 9, 2021

The Man Who Sold His Skin
Tunisia's Oscar nominee layers art, commerce, and romance

Jenny Nulf, April 9, 2021

More by Marc Savlov
Wojnarowicz: F**k You F*ggot F**cker
Inside the creativity and fury of the artist provocateur

March 26, 2021

SXSW Film Review: <i>The Hunt for Planet B</i>
SXSW Film Review: The Hunt for Planet B
We’re gonna need a bigger telescope ...

March 19, 2021


Baxter, Jerome Bolvin

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle