This review originally appeared on IONCinema.
Tribeca 2010: Kim Chapiron's Dog Pound
by Melissa Silvestri
Kim Chapiron, who debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival with the dark and edgy Sheitan in ’05, returns to the Festival with Dog Pound, a brutal slice of post-adolescence male aggression, and the prison cycles that encourage it. Dog Pound is difficult to watch at times for its unrelenting violence of boys against boys, but it offers a sobering argument against juvenile detention centers that unwittingly create repeat offenders, and gives a glimpse into why adult criminals may be the way they are.
Dog Pound follows three teenage boys, in for petty crimes: Angel (car theft and assault); Davis (possession of narcotics with intent to resell); and Butch (assault on a correctional officer). They’re interned in a facility in Montana where there’s not only strict rules to enforce discipline, but a class system amongst the prisoners is maintained by the guards, which only encourages a sick abuse of privileges by the favored inmates.
Grimly shot with teenage actors and in harsh lighting, the film is centered on the choices of violence and retaliation, and how easy it is, especially for teenagers who have little impulse control, to react by beating the hell out of each other in maintain power and respect. It only leads them further into the wrong decisions, being seen as “unstable” by the correctional facility, and being treated like wild dogs that need to be put down.
Dog Pound works because the dialogue is genuine, and the feeling of being cooped up and wanting to fight back is palpable for anybody. It ranks amongst Kids and Thirteen as portrayals of adolescence within a sick and messed-up society, and the audience should brace themselves for a intense powerhouse of a picture.