The clip below for Matthew Johnson’s The Dirties is NSFW due to language, but it’s also worth pointing out that this is a film about a violent response to bullying, and this scene appears to be the inception of the central duo’s plan. It’s pretty dark is all I’m saying.
Writer, director and co-star Matthew Johnson is risking quite a lot by making a drama that centers on a plan to shoot a bunch of bullies in school. But instead of forming this as an exploitative horror movie, he has crafted something that more closely resembles a fly-on-the-wall documentary. At least, that’s if you listen to any of the glowing reviews that followed its award-winning showing at the 2013 Slamdance Film Festival or any of the other festivals where it’s been seen. I haven’t seen it yet, but thanks to Kevin Smith and his Kevin Smith Movie Club imprint, I’ll get a chance to find out soon when it hits VOD on October 4.
Johnson plays Matthew, who with his friend Owen (Owen Williams), are a pair of heavily bullied teens who try to get some of their frustrations out by filming a violent revenge story as a school project. They’re huge movie fans, so what better way than through film to make their adversaries pay?
The above clip is chilling in how believable it’s played. I can’t tell you how many times some friends and I have let an ill-advised plan go from conversation to regret in very little time. But not on this scale, of course. Matthew wants to make a movie where they actually kill all of the bullies in their school, whom they dub “the Dirties.” It’s a found footage movie, so there is a third-party friend here present for everything. I’m sure there will be a few problems with that, but we never actually see a school shooting, so maybe things go down a different way.
Here is the second clip released, which is less involved with the central plot, but is a nice character moment between the two friends.
Comparisons to Gus Van Sant’s Elephant and Tim Hunter’s River’s Edge seem relevant. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Smith gave this film huge compliments in explaining why he decided to distribute it. “It’s so goddamned compelling and so important,” he said. “In terms of first films, hands down, the best first film in my life. People will be talking about this movie as a first film, as an important flick, for years to come.” You’ll see a blurb from Smith in the film’s trailer below. October 4, people.