THE DIRTIES (2013) – Review



When two bullied high schoolers Matt (Johnson) and Owen (Williams) decide to take matters into their own hands against  THE DIRTIES, a group of teens who take pride in intimidating and assaulting the two pop culture geeks. Their situation disconcertingly spirals into an affecting and disturbing take on an unfortunate school epidemic that has plagued America’s schools. The Dirties is a must-see, and not for the inevitable event that occurs at the end, but for an extremely unique take on a controversial subject that dares viewers to survey the preceding events that render the film as an unconventional opportunity to get inside the minds of very likable shooters. THE DIRTIES

That’s just within the first few minutes of the film.

Co-writer, director and stars Matthew (Johnson) and Owen (Williams) are just your every-day sociable and identifiable cinephiles who tour the halls of their school between classes filming themselves and spouting 90s movie or dialogue back and forth from Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Usual Suspects (1995). Matt even goes ‘all out’ and dress as a woman to reenact a diverse scene from the film Being John Malkovich (1999). What is truly astounding about these two very complex characters is that there is not an indication or any “sign” that these two are psychopaths.

They are not.

In fact, they are far from the stereotypical media description of a school shooter: loners and|or unpopular. In fact, the media should be ashamed to sensationalize and glorify school shootings. We all know that this is exactly what the media does. There’s nothing there to resolve or to prove in the instances of school shootings. School shootings are a social and a horrifying tragedy.

They are unpredictable and unfortunate.

Let it be known that I am not an admirer of “found footage” films or its genre. It’s just too easy to piece together nonsensical action and credit it as a film. Something is usually always missing–the acting at times in these films, seem habitually forced in an all-to-easy to cipher plot.

But not this time.

Audiences know what is about to happen. The problem is that we can’t prevent it from happening. We never are introduced to the person behind the camera; however, he/she is everywhere, capturing every waking moment of Matt and Owen lives. Good and bad.

This is what is so uncomfortably unsettling about The Dirties. We watch as Matt and Owen are tormented by this group of students, watch their interviews with other students and >>> teachers <<< who are in obvious “denial” of what is going on in their schools–and for some unknown reasons the media and perhaps others are afraid to admit. Let’s be clear–having Matt and Owen be victims of bullying incidents is not an excuse to justify their behavior. Again, what is challenging and perhaps the most poignant aspect of the entire film is that audiences will like these guys. It’s hard to find anyone that wouldn’t. In the end may even find it hard to judge them, nor justify their actions.

Matt and Owen.

I really like these guys.

This is what made the film uncomfortable for me.

For this reason alone—if there is ever a good enough of a reason—for me to enjoy any film then that is it.


Highly recommended.

Art and supplementary materials courtesy ©2013 of Phase 4 Films. All rights reserved.

  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 4 stars
  • Excellent

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  • Last modified: 2015-02-26

Review Summary:

While working on a movie for class, the lines between fiction and reality blur together in this horrifying look at high school bullying.

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