Something in the Dirt (2022) Review

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

Something in the Dirt (2022) Review

Horrorific content by adrian on June 07th, 2023 | Movie Review | Slow Burn, Supernatural, Thriller, Mystery, Dangerous Exploration, B-Horror, Paranormal Proof

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It's about two down-on-their-luck friends who discover supernatural phenomena in their LA apartment and work to record it on film to bring themselves fame and fortune.

Something in the Dirt was directed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson (both directed Resolution, Spring, and The Endless) and stars Aaron Moorhead (The Endless) and Justin Benson (The Endless, After Midnight).

Something in the Dirt Review

In Something in the Dirt, John and Levi witness supernatural events in their Los Angeles apartment building and realize that documenting the paranormal could bring them fame and fortune. However, as they delve deeper into the phenomena, they uncover the dangers of the supernatural world, and their friendship starts to fray.

The filmmaking duo behind "Something in the Dirt" have used the restrictions of the pandemic to shape a unique and existential thriller. The movie is messier and more uneven than the directors' best works, but its boldness could be more laudable.

Benson and Moorhead are among the best filmmakers to create something low-tech and impressive amid a pandemic with almost no crew. Given that their filmography is all about creativity overcoming limitations, this is something they can do.

The latest film from Benson and Moorhead feels less like a carefully crafted story and more like a collection of loosely connected ideas. Though it pays homage to earlier sci-fi films like "E.T." and mystery noirs like "Pi" and "Under the Silver Lake," "Something in the Dirt" is best described as a desperate cry into the misinformation void of our existentially uncertain present.

The Benson and Moorhead film ends up invoking multiple perspectives and layers of truth (or not) in a daringly free-wheeling mixed media affair, roping in different video formats from high-end cameras to phones to grotty VHS handicaps, as well as the pair's decades-old home movies, almost certainly meant to contribute to a meta-narrative invoking the directors' frustrations and achievements during their long career in filmmaking.

The directors' use of stock footage and B-roll creates a sense of unease and uneasiness, reflecting the character's state of mind. In addition, the subtle VFX work in the film helps to create an oppressive and foreboding atmosphere early on, even if the limitations of the effects become clear by the end of the film. Finally, the fantastic sound design and groovy ambient electronic score from regular collaborator Jimmy LaValle also contribute to the dark and unsettling tone of the film.

Something in the Dark may be more successful as a comedic buddy mystery than a horror sci-fi film; the slow-burn pacing could be too slow for its good, with a middle section that drags on, making viewers long for the end.

Although the directors have good intentions, the movie can be brutal to get through at times. It sometimes feels like a barrage of images, and the main characters' relationship becomes increasingly toxic. However, Levi and John eventually find a more meaningful connection.

This movie is undoubtedly praiseworthy given the circumstances of its creation, having been made during the pandemic and with a low budget. However, it may be easier to respect than to love. Those fans of the filmmakers will find plenty to enjoy, but others may find it excessive.

Worth Watching?

Something in the Dirt is an ambitious and overly long horror film that sees Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead dive deep down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole. The film is often exhausting, but it is an impressive meta-sci-fi yarn.

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