The Dirties ****Dir: Matt Johnson. With: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams. 83 mins. Cert: 15
This Canadian found-footage item is a tricky one, but stick with it: there’s something very assured in the way it passes from just north of Jackass to territory closer to Gus van Sant’s Elephant. Director Matt Johnson established himself with a series of larky online shorts: here, he applies the same vérité approach to a tale of two movie-quoting high-school dorks pledging violent revenge on their tormentors – a plot born not of psychopathy, but as another, all-too-easy crib from the culture. If it often resembles Benny’s Video as remade by the kids from Glee, that joshing blitheness – the desire to make a statement without appearing to be making a statement – will only open the film up to wider discussion; in this post-Elliot Rodger moment, its reference points, and the shifting central dynamic, ring deeply, uncomfortably true. It may wind up as the year’s most significant horror film; it’s certainly among the most original.
The Dirties opens in selected cinemas from today.