Unless you follow the indie scene, you’ve probably never heard of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (what a punchline-able last name. Just saying). To get you up to speed: they write, direct, and occasionally star in their own sci-fi movies. Which shouldn’t be a big deal, but in our multi-conglomerated profit-grubbing studio-driven world, anybody who consistently makes decent quality, original indie films tends to get LOTS of acclaim. Because it’s the exception, not the norm. RIP…
Benson and Moorhead’s films are hit or miss for me personally. I’m a huge fan of Resolution, their debut, and I didn’t mind The Endless. Although it got waaaaay more hype than it deserved. But Synchronic wasn’t great, and Something in the Dirt, their newest film, is a lesser entry in my opinion.
To keep it spoiler-free, the film is about two random, grungy guys (played by Benson and Moorhead) who are making a documentary about paranormal activity in one of their apartments. The actual paranormal elements are fairly weak – it’s intriguing, mesmerizing at times, but nowhere near as ominous as the Lovecraftian force in The Endless.
The not-paranormal elements are much stronger. For one thing, the story is buried underneath a mountain of unreliable narration, which adds lots of intrigue to an otherwise generic supernatural phenomenon. And the drama between the characters is incredible. Honestly, the best scenes are the two of them arguing, not the floating shit or Pythagorean spirals.
But otherwise, it’s fairly forgettable. What makes it worse is that Benson and Moorhead are essentially just playing variations of their characters from The Endless. They switched their haircuts and beards, changed up the backstories, but in essence, they’re the same two guys.
So at that point, I’d rather just watch The Endless, because at least they got to utilize an entire forest. Something in the Dirt was confined to their apartment thanks to Covid, so it feels much more cramped. They make the best of it, and there are some excellent shots, but by and large it’s a less impressive entry overall.
That said… They are indie film-makers, in fact they’re even too indie to be affiliated with A24. Which I respect the hell out of. So I’ll keep watching their shit, because at least it’s original and not a corporate churn-out.
Rating: 5.4 / 10
P.S. I finally have a legitimate excuse to use this meme: