School violence is always a sketchy subject in film. Before the tragic events at Columbine High in 1999, the majority of films that dealt with school violence tended to be gang- or minority-related. One huge exception is 1976′s Massacre at Central High, in which a new student already brimming with psychosis declares war on the reigning yuppie clique at school. Post-Columbine, the focus became school shootings performed by kids pushed too far. Some are miserably exploitative (Duck! The Carbine High Massacre) and others are preachy to the point of silliness, like Uwe Boll’s Heart of America. Yes, Uwe Boll directed a serious movie about school shootings.
The better ones leave judgement up to the audience. Films like Van Sant’s Elephant and Ben Coccio’s Zero Day parallel the Columbine tragedy without striving to provide any answers or shoving a message down your throat. But no matter how much weight a school violence film carries, they’re always inherently depressing. Walking the fence is director/writer/star Matthew Johnson’s film The Dirties – an unsettling film that feels fresh and compassionate, but also unfocused in its statement. Whatever the hell that statement is. READ MORE