The controversial Slamdance smash The Dirties is finally getting a theatrical and VOD release this Friday through Phase 4 Films and the Kevin Smith Movie Club. Smith, along with Matt Johnson, the budding young co-writer, director and star of the film, took the time to talk to ETonline about how the indie project got picked up – and whether or not its incendiary, Columbine-inspired storyline could light the match for another real-life tragedy.
"I've been asked that a lot, in terms of my responsibility as a filmmaker for telling a story like this," says Johnson. "Although it sounds sort of bellicose to say, that's like precisely the point -- to be stirring up those exact questions in people. I think it's absurd to think that somebody can see a movie in this culture and then go out and do something horrendous and violent, and then have all the blame fall solely on this one piece of media. … Humans are way more complicated than that."
Winner of the Slamdance Narrative Grand Jury Prize, The Dirties follows two best friends (played by Matt and Owen Williams) whose lives would be perfect if they didn't have to endure cruel bullying at high school. Huge fans of movies, from Pulp Fiction and The Dark Knight Rises to Trainspotting and everything in between, the two set out to make their own film, but the lines between fiction and reality start to blur together when Matt goes too far in retaliation of his tormentors.
"People who think like that -- 'Oh, he shouldn't have made that because now somebody's going to see that movie and go do this' -- that's the conversation we want to start," explains Johnson. "We want that person to be mad, so they go to somebody and say, 'This is how I feel,' and maybe they can talk about it in a realistic way, because I don’t think that violence and psychology are that simple."