A Dirtie Little Flick
Two high school buddies, Matt (Matt Johnson) and Owen (Owen Williams) are a couple of goofball slacker nerds into making little movies about their lives and what’s going on at their school. They are bullied by the jocks and find refuge in their friendship with one another and their moviemaking ideas. They decide to film a comedy about two high school buds getting revenge on the bullies that have terrorized them, and they go to great lengths to film many scenes, set them to music, and form a rough narrative. One of their teachers, taking interest in their budding talents, is a bit alarmed at how violent the footage is, and speaks to the boys. One of them takes it to heart while the other does not. It seems that one of the boys was just having fun, while the other was secretly, psychotically, embracing the narrative of the proposed film. For him, it’s not fantasy anymore, but a reality. And this reality has deadly consequences.
The Dirties is a found footage film, a cut ostensibly culled from hours and hours of footage of Matt and Owen messing around, scheming, laughing and carrying on, and eventually the school shooting that ends the whole ordeal. I suppose how you feel about this movie will largely depend on your feelings as to the efficacy of the chosen medium. Is this story best told through found footage, or third person? Personally, I found it both more tedious using the found footage format, but also more intimately terrifying. Watching as one of the two boys slowly loses his morality and delves into his madness is disquieting, to say the least. This movie was made in 2013 and simply could not be made now. No one would stand for it. They wouldn’t stand for the casual cruelty and the very cogent observations of high school life and bullying. Those bits are all too real and too realistic. Triggering doesn’t begin to cover it. All the while, there is a goofy sense of humor at the bottom of everything, and that adds another realistic, yet very queasy, layer to the reality. This feels like a real documentary, and it’s gross.
This is not a fun film, filled with gore and gothic castles and vampires and things from another world. It doesn’t have gratuitous boob shots or good times. This movie features a very real monster and very real terror. It’s well-made, compelling, and utterly sickening. I would never say something like this is immoral or shouldn’t be made (hell, I sat through A Serbian Film), but I would say it’s not entertaining. Nor is it meant to be. This is a serious subject for serious times and it’s (mostly) treated as such. This is one of those endurance horror films, the kind that you see once and probably don’t ever want to see again. Kudos to the filmmakers for keeping it real, but also damn them for keeping it so real. In short, this movie is not an escapist unreality, but instead an unflinching, unsettling, and extremely disturbing look into a very real reality. You should know at this point if it’s something for you to see or not.