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Film / The Dirties

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Owen and Matt.
"Two best friends are filming a comedy about getting revenge on the bullies at their high school. One of them isn't joking."

Matt and Owen are two high school students making a movie about shooting the bullies that torment them daily. They finish their movie, show it to their film teacher, and discover they must completely rework it in order for it to be appropriate for class. While Owen loses interest in making the film and instead tries to woo the girl he likes, Matt becomes more and more obsessed with the idea of doing the movie, complete with a shooting scene, for real.

The entire film, with the exception of the last line, is improvised and was shot documentary-style with a tiny crew in real high schools.



  • Adults Are Useless: At the beginning of the film, real-life students and teachers are briefly interviewed about bullying. One of the students says the adults don't do a thing, and even when one tried to intervene once, they got punched.
  • Affectionate Parody: The film is arguably a love letter to movies. The ending credits is an impressive homage to many title cards of famous films.
  • Attention Whore: Matt is constantly, constantly, doing things for the camera.
  • Becoming the Mask: Reconstructed. While Matt certainly becomes the mask by the end of the film the question is exactly when this turns from being a performance to being reality. Was he always serious about the shooting? If he and Owen had stayed as close as in the beginning and/or Owen hadn't been successful with Chrissy, would it have all remained as theory?] Is he actually aware that he's serious prior to losing his relationship with Owen?
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  • Beware the Silly Ones: Matt is always trying to be funny, which he does more desperately as the film goes on. Even when he's setting up the GoPros to capture the shooting, he's singing to himself.
  • Bromantic Foil: Matt is this to Owen, despite being the main character.
  • Canada, Eh?: Averted, though they do drop a few "eh"s from time to time.
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: As Matt's plan to get revenge on the Dirties becomes more important to him, he loses his grasp on reality. Owen gets very upset with him for this.
    "You're acting! You're always acting! Always you're conscious of yourself. I don't know what's real with you and what's not real with you."
    • This is how Matt's mom defines "crazy" when he asks her if she thinks he's nuts.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Owen for Matt.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Matt dresses up as one for the movie, apparently just because they can't find a real girl to do it. He watches it repeatedly, though, implying that it hits a lot deeper for him than that.
  • Crushing Handshake: One of the very first instances of bullying in the film is a variation of this.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Heavily implied to be part of Matt's deal, although he never talks about it directly. He's extremely jealous of Owen's burgeoning relationship with Chrissy, never shows any interest in girls at school, and only really goes off at the deep end when his and Owen's friendship gets torpedoed by his escalating violence, bitterness, and jealousy.
  • Description Cut: Many subtle ones—the movie is cut together so one thing happens after another—but a more obvious one is when Matt mentions the "wicked song by Best Coast."
  • Dissonant Serenity: After Matt shoots and kills the bullies, he goes looking for Owen, along the way assuring terrified classmates that he's only there for the bad guys. The only thing he seems bothered by is the fact that he can't find Owen right away.
  • Double Tap: Matt almost casually does this to Jackman.
  • Driven by Envy: It could be argued that Owen gradually getting closer to Chrissy and more distant with Matt is part of why Matt starts taking his revenge plot more seriously.
  • Effeminate Misogynistic Guy: Downplayed but still present with Matt. While he isn't as effeminate as other examples, he becomes obsessed with the video of himself dressed up as a woman, loudly and repeatedly mocks Owen for showing interest in girls, either isn't gay or refuses to admit it to himself, and mocks Chrissy for being "stupid" to Owen.
  • Faux Documentary: Minus the talking heads.
  • Feud Episode: Owen gets more and more fed up with Matt's antics, and explodes at Matt when he's doing kung-fu on the cliff.
    • Apparently, real-life Owen was genuinely frustrated with real-life Matt in this scene due to the way they shot the movie.
  • Gilligan Cut: The cake-making scene.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: The first half of the story is a black comedy about a pair of kids dealing with bullying. About halfway through, it becomes increasingly obvious that it is about a possible sociopath plotting a mass shooting.
  • Incredibly Conspicuous Drag: Malkovich, Malkovich...
  • Left It In: "Don't...don't say 'faggots'."
  • The Movie Buff: Try to find a scene in this movie where Matt isn't making some reference to another film.
    • His walls are covered with movie posters, too.
  • Narcissist: Matt begins the movie by quoting famous films and TV shows, but as it goes on, he begins to quote himself.
  • No Fourth Wall: Matt talks directly to one of the cameramen at several points.
    "You're going to need to put these in yourself."
  • Only Friend: Lampshaded by Owen when he storms out of Matt's house.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: One of the many things that leads to Matt killing the bullies.
  • School Bullying Is Harmless: Boy is this ever subverted. Matt and Owen are practically tortured daily.
  • Serenade Your Lover: Owen tries to do this with Chrissy.
  • The Sociopath: Matt, who lampshades this by literally reading the definition of one to Owen and saying, "Tell me if this sounds like anybody."
  • Teens Are Monsters
  • TV Teen: Totally averted. They shot the film in real high schools, so besides the lead actors, the students are all actually in high school.
    • Plus, one of the aims of the movie was to portray teens in a realistic, non-Hollywood way.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: "Sweatpants are out."
  • William Telling: Matt tries to get Owen to shoot a bullet right past his head.

We're just here for the bad guys.

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