When neighbours John and Levi witness supernatural events in their Los Angeles apartment building, they realise documenting the paranormal could inject some fame and fortune into their wasted lives. An ever-deeper, darker rabbit hole, their friendship frays as they uncover the dangers of the phenomena, the city and each other.
Well, well, well. Where to even begin? Benson and Moorhead have done what one could argue is their weirdest film yet. Something in the Dirt could easily be classified as fringe cinema or cinema nouveau…It’s the kind of film that would be Avant Garde if it ever had to walk down a runway. I honestly wish I’d seen it high.
Benson and Moorhead are well known for their horror and sci-fi features, some with great critical success and others with more of a lukewarm reception. These titles include some of my personal favourites, like Spring (2014), Resolution (2012), and The Endless (2017). They also took charge of two episodes of the top-rated Marvel series, Moon Night. I have yet to watch Synchronic (2019).
Their latest offering, Something in the Dirt, follows two societal outcasts who are living in the same apartment complex; one new to the building and one a long-time tenant. The chain-smoking duo discover an ashtray that when placed in a certain spot, seems to become possessed by some mathematical light trick (bear with me) that messes with reality in some weird way. The pair decide to make a documentary to share their discovery of the paranormal phenomenon all while having a myriad of philosophical discussions.
We have Benson to thank for these fantastic, philosophical musings as while the pair share the director’s chair, Benson is the pen and Moorhead the camera. While both take turns at the cutting table, it is Moorhead’s cinematography paired with Benson’s scripts that make the dynamic duo such a resounding success. And that cinematography is nothing to sneer at, Something in the Dirt is a visual feast of light and optics; it’s almost magical in nature, making us feel like we, too, are experiencing this mystical, paranormal force ourselves.
The discussions deep dive down all sorts of weird and wonderful paths: aliens; sacred geometry; man versus nature; magic; ghosts and the paranormal; life, death, and the meaning of existence…you name it, it is thrown into the narrative at some point in the film. Now, this is going to be where I imagine the film will divide audiences. You’re either going to really enjoy the quirky characters and their stoner-esque conversations or you are not—you are going to love the comical, whimsical way the film plays with imagery, sound, colours, and angles or it is going to bore you to death. I don’t see an in-between opinion emerging.
Personally, I love films that push the envelope and strive to break ground cinematically; when writers and directors take chances. I also enjoy watching those chances pay off. Something in the Dirt definitely does just that. It walks a fine line between art and insane and doesn’t try to hide the fact that it is both—it fully embraces the weirdness and the madness. The last act gets a little dark but as a whole, the film is a lot of fun.
Would I recommend the film? Did Benson and Moorhead achieve whatever it was that they set out to do? Absolutely. This was a blast from beginning to audacious end. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Something In The Dirt will be in UK Cinemas from November 4th and will be on Digital Download & Blu-ray from the 5th of December. You can preorder the Bluray by clicking this link here.
Site founder. Horror enthusiast. Metalhead.