Director: Kim Chapiron .
Starring. Adam Butcher,Shane Kippel,Mateo Morales, Slim Twig.Canada. 1h m.
Long after a wave of brutal British films hit the screen in the late 70’s and early 80’s detailing social disturbances, punk and skinhead culture and a lot of lost souls, race relations were at a boiling point with the rise of right wing groups in English cities and this all got reflected in such institutional films as Scum (1979), Made in England (1982) and Scrubbers (1982), that era passed and there was a lot of calm, but director Kim Chapiron, who had blasted on the scene with Sheitan (2010) a creepy occult themed thriller starring Vincent Cassel. While Dog Pound doesn’t employ the macabre of the unknown it’s equally disturbing and a loose remake of Scum.
The film kicks off with three young men getting into trouble, the drug dealing Davis (Kippel), Car thief Angel (Morales) and the ultra-violent Butch (Butcher) who is seen disfiguring a guards face after a hands on altercation. Soon they are stripping naked in the warden’s office and being checked into Enola Vale juvenile detention center and being introduced to their caretaker and a few other cons, the boys soon realise who is friend and foe but some are more easily lead than others. He toughest guy on the block and two henchmen, one who actually looks like a Garbage Pail Kid and the other is a yes man, this trio wreak their own havoc and are generally avoided at all costs. Other notable characters creep from the woodwork, Max (Slim Twig) who is an emotional poet, happy to spread lies about being HIV affected so people leave him alone and constantly crushing on the only female officer in the facility and a there’s black kid called Frank (Dewshane Williams) who’s got an highly negative attitude on life and is quick to anger but has a wicked sense of humor and morals.
Under constant supervision by able and level minded individuals.. wait scrap that, the correctional facilities staff mean well but they are living stressed live and have way too many kids to look after, they go through their roles with disdain, just following the motions and in one pivotal moment, losing their shit. The results are both explosive and devastating.
Generally the film is a bit fly on the wall, it’s still a well-crafted movie, changing and reflecting the emotions and situations, Kim has a talent for being on that edge of fantasy and with his young age he really does amplify what is a generation that’s very close to his own, in Seithan there is a group of young people who find themselves being used for parts for a rural satanic family, and in Dog Pound it’s the story of 3 young men who have strayed from the path but while they are wayward and will continue to be so they are also vulnerable children on the inside. There is no supernatural elements but there is a similar attitude, a bravado, and need to prove oneself. None of the main actors were teens while filming but all passable and some have achieved great things in their respective fields. Slim Twig has his place in the world of music and performances, while Looney (the garbage pail kid, AKA Jeff McEnery) is a stand-up comedian so there was a lot of “experience” within the actor pool, but not in harsh drama acting, but there are firm performances all round, the only let down is that the hard edge is often laid on thick, then removed completely whereas Scum has this constant feeling of impending doom about it. The most versatile character is Butch, he comes in swinging and strangely becomes a victim, trying not to fight back, but when he does eventually roar again it’s the bloodiest scene in the movie, do you remember that scene in Shawshank when Officer Hadley stopped Andy Dufranes rapist,Bogs Diamond in his tracks.. this is similar to what went down in that cell. He eventually gets a deal, keep your nose clean and you can get out early, it turns out that the guy he blinded in the opening was being sued by parents for his treatment of those in his care, so Butch can see the light at the tunnel, this changes his persona completely and those depending on him find themselves left without a body guard.
There is an element of teen drama, obviously warped with the mind-set of these deviants, Kim doesn’t go all out to shock, he’s quite strained and even lessens the most extreme scenes of rape and race is only mentioned a couple of times, one incident leads to the quote that gives the movie it’s title…
We’re not gonna have any of this bullshit on my court this morning. You ain’t no wiggers, no niggers, no fuckin’ crackers. I don’t give a shit what you think you is! You a bunch of stray dogs that we got locked up in this dog pound! And you all stink the same. Now mix this shit up!
After a couple of tragic deaths in the facility, the boys go on a hunger strike which leads to a violent riot, with tensions being generally high anyway it’s bound to blow, but there is one final deception from the most unlikely person … it’s a pretty captivating story which makes for an electric cinema experience It’s a shame this is Chapiron’s only straight to disc film.
R – Scum (1979), Sheitan (2010)
L – 22 of my favourite prison movies
5s – Kim Chapiron.
Vs – Dog Pound Vs Scum