The UHF of the film world.
Latest news

Marina Antunes [Celluloid 09.07.10] Canada movie review news drama

Year: 2010
Director: Kim Chapiron
Writers: Kim Chapiron, Jeremie Delon
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7 out of 10

It’s always quiet ones you have to look out for. At least that’s the case in Kim Chapiron’s Dog Pound.

Taking place at a youth correctional facility in Montana, Chapiron’s film opens with an introduction to three soon-to-be new arrivals at the Enola Vale Youth Correctional Center. We meet Angel, a 15 years old thief, Davis, a 16 year old drug dealer and Butch, at 17, the most soft spoken yet violent of the bunch. The rules at Enola Vale are laid out early on: stay out of trouble and stick to the rehabilitation program and chances are you’ll limit your stay. Not an easy thing for the three newcomers whose arrival immediately pegs them as fresh meat for picking.

Butch takes some of the abuse (though not without fighting back) and upon his return from a short stint in solitary, starts watching from the shadows, plotting his revenge on Banks, the top dog at the “dog pound,” and his cronies, in what elevates into full scale war when one of the young inmates dies at the hands of another key player, a correctional officer named Goodyear who is dealing with his own personal problems.

Chapiron’s film fits almost seamlessly into the plethora of prison films, taking on many of the themes that have been explored in previous films. From the idea of the low man on the totem pole to the race division that plagues many of these institutions, Chapiron and co-writer Jeremie Delon pepper their film with many of these, giving some more weight than others but what stands out above all else is the close quarters feel of the film and the starkness of the surroundings.

It’s a film of whites and greys which lends even more power to the action that takes place in the foreground. Surprisingly, it’s also a quiet film, one which uses volume to its advantage; when it gets loud, the impact of the (for the most part) violence that accompanies it is that much more effective. Now don’t be thinking that this is a film full of action, the tension is very deliberately built with much observation and discussion but the bits of violence that do arise are swift and come in waves that rise and then wade into the background.

In the advent of reality television which has brought the great “Lock Up,” Dog Pound could have felt like an unnecessary film, one that’s come up a little late and in some respects, it is. Chapiron’s film doesn’t carry the same power as watching the real thing unfold but it brings something else: a look at the day to day on the inside and the view is anything but picturesque (there’s no glamorizing at play here). The film is greatly helped by the casting with excellent performances from all of the players but particularly from Adam Butcher as Butch. The choice to shoot the film at close range, putting the viewer in the middle of the action rather than as a distant observer, only accentuates the great performances.

I didn’t find Dog Pound particularly memorable but it’s a film that shells out a number of great performances and an excellent closing few minutes complete with a final scene which raises more questions that the preceding 90 minutes. Worth a peek if only as a stepping stone in the career of an up-and-coming filmmaker and an array of soon to be Canadian film stars.

You might also like


The Picaroony (11 years ago) Reply

does this not count as a remake?

Leave a comment