Monsters are almost always metaphors for something. Many films forget this and just have something wreaking havoc, while others make it crystal clear.
When Hank’s (Jeremy Gardner) long term partner Abby (Brea Grant) leaves him and their falling-down hundred-year-old house in rural Florida, things start to spiral further for our shotgun-wielding lead as an unseen monster makes itself known late every night. Camping out to catch it, Hank’s outwardly erratic behaviour soon garners the attention of the townsfolk and their local cop (Justin Benson), incidentally Abby’s brother.
Benson is the one performer who properly nails the tone of this, playing the smart alec you just can’t wait to see get their comeuppance in some despicably morbid way. Gardner and Grant share a decent chemistry and far away the film’s best scene, the only long take herein. The form being the order of the day, a lengthily-held shot on the pair as they dissect their history, regrets and relationship is unsettling not only for being so creatively rendered within the film’s otherwise very traditional visual framework but for absorbing us so by ill-permitting viewers to turn away.
A near quality match for this encounter unfolds as one of the most laugh-out-loud, macabre jump scares in recent cinematic memory; transpiring very late in proceedings once we’ve been lured into a welcome, palpable sense of complacency.
The dual monster and relationship narratives proving to be very standard, sparingly fleshed out fare that would emerge indistinct but for their confluence, the very apparent thrust of their commingling, if regrettably almost stated just so we definitely get the point, still bears an emotional resonance. A sequence with a rattling chain together with a monstrous sighting where the isolated environment is only intermittently lit by the discharge of increasingly unavailable ammo proving memorable, amidst the very obvious Something Else still manages it’s fair heft of surprises.
Something Else screens as part of the Melbourne International Film Festivalon Saturday 17 August at Kino