MIFF – SOMETHING IN THE DIRT
Hot on the heels of their Marvel debut directing episodes of Moon Knight and Loki, filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead return to their kitchen-sink roots with a DIY sci-fi mind-bender.
About to skip town for good, Levi holes up in a decrepit Los Angeles apartment for what he assumes will be a short stay as he sorts his stuff out. Instead, he meets and soon clicks with long-time resident John. When the pair start witnessing weird things in Levi’s lounge room, they hatch a get-rich-quick plan to film the phenomena and sell their footage to Netflix.
Much as they did in The Endless (MIFF 2017) and Spring (MIFF 2014), Benson and Moorhead direct, produce, edit and star in Something in the Dirt. Set almost entirely within Levi’s apartment, against the backdrop of a semi-apocalyptic, fire-ravaged LA, the film is a COVID chamber piece of sorts. As it digs into its characters’ increasingly wild, conspiracy-fuelled psyches, it also offers a blackly comic take on filmmaking itself via a highly meta, mockumentary framework. It’s deliberately chaotic and loopy, like its protagonists’ unspooling brains, but through it all, Benson and Moorhead’s off-screen friendship imbues their onscreen IDs with a lived-in likeability – even as they spiral further towards delusion and possible doom.
“This movie is bursting with mad, frenetic energy, and constantly tossing out weird ideas … It hooks you, amuses you, draws you in, and catches you off guard.” – /Film