Four minutes into The Dirties, the movie's two leads are shown walking down the corridor of their high school performing a favourite scene from Pulp Fiction when a member of the Dirties, a gang of bullies, casually trips one of them to the ground. The bully then pretends to apologize and helps him up, only to knock him down again and start wailing on him in plain sight of the other students, who keep their eyes on the ground as they walk by. It's only a quick scene, but it neatly evokes the cruelty and arbitrariness of being picked on in school.
The movie itself, which opens in limited release and on demand on Friday, follows a pair of high school friends who set out to make a revenge fantasy flick about killing their school's bullies. Their teacher takes issue with two of his students making a "school shooting movie," and asks for a PG-13 cut to show to the class. Instead, one of the two friends starts taking the whole idea a little too seriously, and the lines between his film and reality begin to blur.
First-time Toronto director Matt Johnson premiered the indie film at the Slamdace festival in January, where it won the Narrative Grand Jury Prize. A few months later, Kevin Smith acquired the U.S. and Canadian distribution rights through his Kevin Smith Movie Club. In a release, Smith said "This is the most important film you will see all year. Matt Johnson has mashed up the found-footage film and the faux-documentary genres and crafted the most original, hypnotic and human movie about a monster-in-the-making you will ever see."
The film's release coincides with National Bullying Prevention Month, which kicks off today. It will be screening for a week at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto starting on October 4, and will also be released on video-on-demand at the same time nationwide. Johnson himself will give a Q&A after the matinee screening in Toronto on Sunday, October 6.