Dog Pound Review

By Laura Clark

Country: US
Running Time:
Directed by:
Kim Chapiron
Adam Butcher, Shane Kippel, Mateo Morales
Released (DVD):

Dog Pound

Dog Pound is loosely based upon Alan Clarke's notorious Scum (1979), which was withdrawn from the BBC but remade and consequentially became one of the most notorious films of the 1980s. So whilst Dog Pound isn't a wholly original film, it serves as a relevant 30 year update for a contemporary audience. With a recent abundance in-prison films that include Jacques Audiard's A Prophet and Steve McQueen's The Hunger, Dog Pound fails to contribute to a re-defining of the genre, as we get the expected rioting, beatings and unsympathetic guards. Whilst Kim Chapiron has done nothing original, his gentle plagiarism is made up for by the films poignant intensity, and a veritable and moving account of miserable and inevitably brutal, borstal life. This film works, because whilst it is a familiar genre, it is still a loved genre.

Dog Pound observes the experiences, and friendship of three recently incarcerated youths at the Enola Vale Correctional Facility in Montana, North America, and their attempts to stay out of trouble. Angel (Mateo Morales) is imprisoned for assault and auto theft. Davis (Shane Kippel), for the possession of drugs, and Butch (Adam Butcher) for assaulting a correctional officer. The first half of Dog Pound is somewhat quiescent, observing the dwindling arrogance of the new inmates.   Resident tormentor Banks, and his sidekick sycophants threaten to jeopardise the trio's attempts to remain chaste in a tense atmosphere that constantly trembles on the cusp of a violent eruption.

Unsure as to whether it is focusing upon a narrative, or just an observation on the many grim days of borstal life, Dog Pound waxes and wanes between a weakening narrative and the offering of an  insight to the monotonous routine of the inmates; a plethora of days that offer little resolution and  hope, ultimately depicting both inmates and guards stuck within the suffocating prison system. At times, the savage and almost sadistic violence jeopardises the underlying pain and sadness of their lives from just becoming swamped under the layers of blood-gushings, beatings and   psychotic anger.

Of course, another prison film, but one that is lovingly constructed, emotive and empathic. The close-ups of Butch's shadowy, frightening face comes back in flashbacks long after the film has ended.

Your Comments Please

If you would like to comment on this article, please click here

About The Author

Laura Clark Laura is an unemployed literature graduate from the University of East Anglia, and spends her days at Raindance sorting the social media, licking stamps and writing the occasional article.

When she is not interning, she is learning how to speak Lithuanian, baking excellent fruit crumbles and writing short stories.



Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
Watch independent shorts, features and documentaries on
Submission details to Raindance Film Festival
Visit us on Twitter for daily tips and updates


© 2010 Raindance Festivals Ltd.
Reproduction of this article without written permission is strictly forbidden. For information on reprint rights please email