Dog Pound (3 stars)

Dog Pound

Young French writer-director Kim Chapiron, who made the hillbilly horror Sheitan, heads to the American Midwest for his English-language debut feature. Based on Alan Clarke’s seminal borstal drama Scum, Dog Pound is set in a Montana facility for juvenile offenders. Three new teenage prisoners arrive through its gates: Butch (Adam Butcher) has assaulted a correctional officer; Davis (Shane Kippel) has been caught dealing drugs, while Angel (Mateo Morales) was arrested stealing a car. A warden explains to them that if they play by the rules, they will be treated fairly. The newcomers quickly discover, however, that in this dog-eat-dog world, it is thuggish bullies like their fellow in-mate Banks (Taylor Poulin), who have to be confronted.

A visceral authenticity is this claustrophobic film’s main asset, which is partly achieved by the convincing lead performances and the casting of gang-members and ex-prisoners in supporting roles, who all look and seem right for this environment (Poplin, for example, has real-life convictions for violence). Credit too to Chapiron and his cinematographer Andre Chemetoff for the way they capture the climactic riot scene in the cafeteria with a dramatic you-are-there immediacy. There’s no question that the filmmaker is effective at portraying the brutality and intimidation that define this detention system and, fittingly, even the anger-management class flares up into a violent confrontation. What’s less clear though, is what the film actually adds to Clarke’s original vision.

Dog Pound

  • 3 stars
  • 2010
  • France/Canada/UK
  • 1h 30min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Kim Chapiron
  • Written by: Jeremie Delon, Kim Chapiron
  • Cast: Adam Butcher, Shane Kippel, Mateo Morales, Slim Twig, Taylor Poulin, Dewshane Williams, Lawrence Bayne, Trent McMullen, Jeff McEnery, Bryan Murphy

Amid a cast of real-life gang members and ex-prisoners, three teenagers adapt to the dog-eat-dog environment of a juvenile detention centre. Authentic and claustrophobic, the brutality of such an environment is portrayed to a violent degree, although what is actually added to Alan Clarke's visionary borstal drama 'Scum…

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