Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Film Review: Dog Pound (2010)

Dog Pound (Review)
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...doesn't do much to differentiate itself, but it's emotionally effective and well-made..."

Angel (Mateo Morales), Butch (Adam Butcher), and Davis (Shane Kippel) are teenage criminals who are sent to a juvenile detention facility with tough-but-fair guards and other vicious inmates.

Dog Pound is a by-the-books jail drama. After a quick introduction to the three leads and their crimes, we witness their lives in the juvenile facility. The guards are fair but stern. Their fellow inmates, however, range from passive and eccentric to vicious and angry. The bullying inmates cause the most problem for Angel, Butch, and Davis, but, eventually, they find a safe haven within each other. Together they build a friendship -- the type of friendship where they bully each other, but care. The third act is brutal, and the final sequence, particularly the final scene, is devastating.

Like I said, though, Dog Pound is a by-the-books jail-prison drama. If you've seen one, you've likely seen Dog Pound. There's the tough-guy top-dog of his unit, the stern-but-caring guard, the fights, the drug trade, the suicide, and the obligatory rape scene. (It seems like every prison film absolutely needs a rape scene nowadays.) Dog Pound really doesn't try to differentiate itself. Fortunately, the short runtime, the consistent pace, and emotionally effective story make the clich├ęs feel less offensive. In fact, this is a great film with many intense sequences, and it'll be even better if you haven't watched a film like this at all, or at least if it has been a while.

Mateo Morales, Adam Butcher, and Shane Kippel are great as the leads. Mateo Morales, despite having the least screen time, delivers the most believable and natural performance, though -- some of the other performances occasionally felt over the top. Ultimately, every character nails their performance, so you'll either feel bad for some or you'll be infuriated by others. The music blends well with the film, but it's not very memorable. Kim Chapiron's direction is great, pulling a lot from his cast and his story, despite lacking some needed originality. On the technical side, the film is very well made.

Overall, Dog Pound is a great jail drama. If you're a fan of the genre, this one doesn't do much to differentiate itself, but it's emotionally effective and well-made, regardless. If you've been drained by jail dramas, wait a while before watching this, otherwise, you're in for a tense ride.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, nudity and one rape scene.

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