Matt and Owen, two best friends and avid cinephiles, attend school each day with the worry of being harassed by a group of bullies they call “The Dirties”. For a school assignment, the two attempt to make an action revenge film about two men who take out a group of bullies, also aptly referred to as “The Dirties”. Their friendship starts to change as Matt and Owen’s fantasy of revenge begins to near reality.
The cast is made up completely of newcomers. Matthew Johnson, who also directed, edited, and co-wrote the film, stars as Matt. His best friend Owen is played by Owen Williams. The beautiful Krista Madison appears as Owen’s crush Chrissy. Alen Delain and Brandon Wickens portray two members of The Dirties.
Viewers will be attached to Owen and Matt as soon as the film begins. Matt stands on a table, dressed in drag, recreating the classic “Malkovich Malkovich” scene from Being John Malkovich. Similarly, a scene where the two film their own version of the “Royale with cheese” scene from Pulp Fiction, with Matt doing the scene as Bane, is spot on and hilarious. Any movie lover will instantly see themselves in these characters. Unfortunately, Matt and Owen’s easy movie loving life is much more difficult than it initially appears, when we see that they struggle with bullying every single day.
The film shows a very honest and human portrayal of bullying. In a documentary scene, the two interview classmates about what can be done about bullying. Matt and Owen, as well as the audience know, that these things, though often said by teachers and parents, never truly work. The film genuinely shows the bullying epidemic, and though it eventually presents a solution, we know that their solution is impossible, and wrong, outside of film.
Presented as a found footage film, it is often difficult to distinguish what is real and what is staged. This can also be said of the film Owen and Matt are making. The two often film their unknowing classmates. In one particular scene, they trick a classmate, Chrissy, into saying “Help me, please save me” during a presentation so that they can edit it into their film.
Johnson’s film is thoroughly entertaining throughout. It is so well written that one can actually believe that the found footage they are watching is real. The film says quite a lot about how bullying affects the live of teens, and how they are ultimately helpless to stop it. It is completely unexpected that a film that so honestly portrays bullying can be both heart wrenching, and extremely funny, but The Dirties does so wonderfully.
Should You See It?
Absolutely. See it not only because it is an excellent film, but also because it’s Canadian and filmed in Toronto! Do not miss this film, as it is one of the greatest teen oriented films that has been, and will be, released for quite some time.