Circle Guy - Film Review: The Dirties

We live in an interesting time. It’s been nearly 15 years since the anniversary of the Columbine Massacre, when Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold killed 12 students & 1 teacher and injured 21 others, before committing suicide. Nearly 15 years since this tragic event, and a group of Canadian filmmakers have tackled the subject.

The Dirties tells the story of two high-school nerds, Matt & Owen, who are being bullied by a gang called “The Dirties.” The boys decide to make a film for a class, about them hunting down all the bad guys in their school, which is then censored by their teacher. The boys then decide to make the film for real, although one of them wants to go further than the other. A grisly subject indeed, which is why it’s so weird and surprising for it to be funny. Very funny. The film has a constant honest humour, which doesn’t come from jokes & one liners, but from the main characters’ likeability. If you haven’t caught how astounding a statement that is, let me reiterate that: The main characters, who (spoilers) commit a massacre, are insanely likeable. The audience cannot but feel sorry for these kids. This film shows how easily bullying can affect people’s’ mental health, to the point that the thought of such an act does not phase them.


I’m not going to even try and say that I found this film on my own. The film is being distributed by indie maverick Kevin Smith. In a story that reflects his own directing debut, The Dirties was shown at Slamdance (the indie film festival that plays at the same time & place as Sundance), and chance intervened. A friend of Smith’s happened to attend a screening of the film at Slamdance, and insisted he watch it. Smith, intending to only watch a few minutes, watched the entire film in one sitting, unable to turn it off. When watching it myself, I intentionally set the goal of not doing this, as it would stink of hackneyed writing in this article…but I did the same exact thing. I sat down at 1am to check the technical visual & sound quality of the film, and I watched the entire thing.


The film uses the mockumentary/found-footage style that’s becoming increasingly popular in the world of indie cinema, but not in a generic “Blair Witch” way. The directors shot in a cinema verité-esque way, driven by practicality & budget: the main characters are called Matt & Owen, as are the actors themselves. They did this so they didn’t ruin a take by using their real name rather than a characters name. They also just went out and filmed things, with no real place for them in the film. The opening scene is such an example, where the two guys bump into two young kids who are also making a film. This was not planned. After finishing the film, the filmmakers had to track down to get the kids’ permission to put them in the movie.

It is strange comparing the Indie cinema world & Hollywood. Hollywood films have a higher budget, more technical skills available to them, and yet are less creative. Indie films have small budgets, a small pool of talent to choose from, and tend to create moments of genuine creativity. This is especially astounding when you remember that if an indie film fails, the director fails. If Matt Johnson, director of The Dirties, went out to film these random bits and somehow came back with absolutely nothing, he’s done. That is the beauty of indie films. People like Matt Johnson ignore what they probably shouldn’t to create something as wonderful as The Dirties.


CircleGuy (33 Posts)

Hey! My name's Rob, aka theCircleGuy! I'm a guy who loves the Beatles, so much so that sometimes it seems like I'm crazy. I have more to say, but not now- the owls are listening. I've been told I have to note that I'm from Ireland, which is not in Britain. Shame, shame on you... geography teachers...