Anytime Nicholas Cage is in a movie it should be a screaming red flag as to its quality (or severe lack thereof). Anyone clamoring for his comeback from the obscure depths of C-grade cinema should be aware that Dog Eat Dog is a movie best described as if Natural Born Killers was a racist fever dream. In other words, not any sort of comeback material. Far from it.

Director Paul Schrader brings us the tale of a trio of ex-cons who are hired to kidnap the baby of a gangster who has amassed serious debts. Their poorly conceived plan goes horribly wrong and murder after murder follows.

Let’s start with the script written by Edward Bunker (based on the novel by Mathew Wilder). Lines penned by either a 12 year-old who has only ever watched the movie Scarface or a misogynistic flunky who just downloaded a screenwriting program and decided to say a big screw you to language in general and how people actually talk in particular.

It really is worth noting, again, how bad the dialog in this script is. While it is common knowledge that people in movies do talk different than people in real life, the comic book level of attempted discourse presented here is just plain awful.

The attempt at having anti-heroes is so laughably missed it’s unbelievable. The characters in this dime store pulp fiction knock-off are impossible to root for or even like. If this film was a parody it would still be an absolute train wreck. The scatter shot editing and bizarre choice to mix black and white, color, psychedelic and about 10 other film styles only solidifies the fact that the director didn’t know what to do with this incredibly terrible script.

You can’t even really blame the actors for doing what they do in this movie. There is no way for anyone to make this attempt at cinema enjoyable. Everything from the costumes to the ridiculous “tattoos” puts this thing on blast. Watching Dog Eat Dog is the equivalent of watching a Martian try to read an R.L. Stine novel he pulled from a dumpster fire. If there is a single thing to like about this movie it is the fact that it is under two hours.

Incredibly it is actually getting theatrical release, though VOD/straight to blu-ray isn’t quite the stigma it used to be. Considering that this is Oscar season and that there will be plenty of films out there to spend hard earned cash and precious free time on Dog Eat Dog will be theater filler at best, and hopefully out of them soon.