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  • Rev Horror

Something in the Dirt

Dir. Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead (2022)

Two documentary filmmakers try to capture their own supernatural experiences on camera, creating a record of strange phenomena going on in their apartment.


CAUTION: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

This is exactly what I picture living in California must be like. Weird neighbors with bizarre, unrealistic tales, trying to convince you (and succeeding) that there are bizarre, temporal-spatial phenomena based around a crystal they found in their apartment. Isn’t that supposed to be Hollywood in a nutshell? Whatever the case, filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who star in the film and direct it as well, play new friends John (Moorhead) and Levi (Benson) who run into each other outside of their apartment. John has just moved into the long-abandoned apartment upstairs, and when he starts rambling about his desire to be a filmmaker, he discovers that Levi has those very same interests. The two decide to make a film about the strange things that are happening in John’s apartment, and the story kicks off quickly from there.

It seems obvious to describe a film as “visual storytelling,” but it’s a fitting description for Something in the Dirt. There’s a unique style at play here, the pictures being displayed being as much of the story and vibe as the dialogue or acting. Don’t get me wrong: the acting is phenomenal as well, as Moorhead and Benson aptly portray two men who are slowly losing their marbles. The decision to show the events on-screen, as opposed to referencing them or saving them for some shocking moment later in the film, involves the audience in what is either their discovery or their delusion from the very beginning. It creates an atmosphere where we don’t really know what to believe, and as the film unfolds and we eventually learn that what we are seeing is their documentary and all of the events within are re-enactments also starring the pair, well… we just don’t really know what to believe after that.

The film is very much more scifi than horror, as there is nothing particularly scary about the events, but there is also a sense of unease that is created from the very beginning, with the California wildfires burning in the background and a tense, jittery quality to John’s character. There’s something off about him, and while we never completely learn what that is, we do discover bits and pieces along the way that make the audience not entirely sure if he’s on the up-and-up. Whether the film is depicting mental illness or psychic phenomena is left for the audience to decide, but it’s a fascinating tale nonetheless.

As someone who has quite a bit of experience with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, as well as the manic and grandiose thinking that comes along with it, There’s Something in the Dirt feels a little bit too real. The driving insistence that what they’re seeing cannot exist, and that they are therefore special for being the only people who are able to see what they’re seeing, is disturbing and riveting at the same time. It’s the power of Benson and Moorhead’s acting that brings us to our seats, their eye for detail and visual flair behind the camera that keeps us there. It’s a fantastic movie, even if you can’t completely put your finger on why. If you’re a scifi fan, you owe it to yourself to check this out, and there’s no time like the present since it’s streaming on Hulu.

Who this movie is for: Scifi fans, Paranormal lovers, Paranoid schizophrenics

Bottom line: Filled with rumors of cults, strange scientific phenomena, and the ramblings of two folks who are probably going mad, Something in the Dirt is a fantastic scifi film that yearns to be seen. To frame the film as a documentary was a brilliant choice. It’s madness on camera, and the film reminds me a lot of The Conspiracy, which I also absolutely fucking adore. Check this one out at your earliest convenience

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