Not many people remember this fact, but the first Paranormal Activity was actually this little found-footage movie that premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival back in 2008. Eventually it was picked up and stored on a shelf for awhile until it single-handedly revived the found-footage genre by turning into a cultural phenomenon that has since spawned multiple sequels (and made a boatload of cash, to boot). But its origins lie with Slamdance, Sundance's hipster cousin, which takes place every year at the same time as the country's most influential film festival, and in the same town, too. Many of the films that premiere there didn't make Sundance for one reason or another, but that doesn't mean they're not good. Quite the contrary. The Slamdance lineup is often full of edgier and ballsier content than its more polished, celebrity-crazed cousin, and because of that we see a number of really great movies launch there.
This year's lineup is full of interesting titles, with the found-footage genre continuing to find a home at the festival. Not only is there a Paranormal Activity spoof called Ghost Team One, but there's also a tiny film called The Dirties that, based on its trailer, could wind up being the scariest and most talked-about movie that's premiered at Slamdance since Paranormal Activity.
Make no mistake: The Dirties isn't a paint-by-numbers horror movie, but is instead a different kind of horror movie -- one that reflects the horrors of what it's like in high school these days for kids who are bullied, tormented and desperate for a solution. The film follows two movie geeks who are relentlessly bullied at school, and dream of someday exacting revenge upon those who do them wrong. Things escalate out of control when their dreams soon become a reality.
In the wake of the horrific Sandy Hook shooting, this is sure to be a film that elicits all sorts of emotional reactions when it premieres in Park City, in part because we're still a society that doesn't fully understand our own children. We don't understand what motivates them, or what makes them tick. Many of us are too self-involved to pay attention to their hurt, and when we do, we don't know how to fix it because we're so far removed from being a teenager that it's too easy to just chalk it up as "teens being teens."
It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, The Dirties adds to the conversation. Will it make things worse by portraying kids whose turn to violence was inspired by the movies they're obsessed with, or will it help open the door for a more intelligent conversation with our kids about the short and long-term effects of bullying?
We'll find out soon enough. The Dirties premieres at Slamdance on Saturday, January 19. Learn more about this year's Slamdance Film Festival over on their official website. [via Twitch]
Matt and Owen are best friends who live in a world of endless movie references and hijinks. It would be perfect, if not for the cruel bullies at their high school who make their lives hell. While working on a movie for class, the lines between fiction and reality blur together in this horrifying look at high school bullying.
Follow along on Twitter @ErikDavis and @Moviesdotcom.