Over the last decade or so, the subject of bullying has become a hot topic and The Dirties has done a pretty decent job of jumping on the bandwagon.
It’s a pretty simple film but at the same time it’s pretty powerful in it’s delivery.
Nothing paranormal, no witches in a forest and no UFO’s…still pretty hard-hitting though!
The film follows best friends Matt (Johnson) and Owen (Owen Williams) as they attempt to produce a film based on revenge for one of their school projects.
This hapless pair have a pretty hard life in school and are constantly bullied by a group of jocks named…The Dirties (didn’t see that coming, did you?).
Their school project film centers on this group of bullies getting gunned down – it’s a sort of comedy to get their own back (for once!).
It doesn’t end up being much of a comedy…
The Right Tools For The Job
The Found Footage angle for The Dirties comes into play immediately when the movie’s opening informs the viewers that the subsequent footage has not been edited or altered out of respect for the victims.
These opening title cards always give me a bit of a rush…cos I realize I’ve just stumbled across a Found Footage film!
In this case – the genre is the perfect tool for the job.
The longer I think about it the more convinced I am that this film would not have worked in ANY other format – no matter what budget was thrown at it!
The mockumentary style drama was a slow burn, and that fits the genre perfectly – can you remember the last time you watched a Found Footage-type film that jumped straight into the action? (excluding Hardcore Henry of course!)
This film is pretty lucky in that it managed to include two main leads with great chemistry and a skillful blend of dark humor and dread.
Okay they were geeks…and pretty sad at the end of the day…but they certainly were believable from start to finish!
As we all (probably) know by now – if you manage to get decent or unique actors into a Found Footage film it is going to work on some level.
One of these actors, Matt Johnson, is actually the director as well.
As his character’s sense of reality starts to blur away the film really does hit a rather enjoyable dark zone. You know where you are going…but you don’t know how you are going to arrive there.
This film isn’t meant to be a recreation of Columbine or any of the other famous school shootings – it’s slightly more than that.
It does a pretty neat job at handling teenage loneliness, relationships and a descent into madness.
After watching the film I spent about an hour reading other critic’s reviews of it – I often do that once I have watched something I feel will divide opinion.
I was right – it was pretty much a 50 – 50 on the love/hate scale.
Well, I certainly didn’t hate it…but it was a little slow and tiresome in places.
I know, I know, Found Footage films frequently rely on these ‘builds’ to make their endings more shocking…but this slow burn did get a little unnecessary in parts.
But as a whole it worked – and the final handful of scenes really gave you something to think about (don’t worry – no spoilers here!).
If Matt Johnson delved back into the Found Footage genre I would definitely give his new project a go. This isn’t great…but it has something a lot of other films don’t…
Well worth watching.