“Something in the Dirt”
Metacritic (4/10), Rotten Tomatoes (**), Letterboxd (2/5), Imdb.com (4/10)
When a pair of Los Angeles friends/neighbors (actors/directors Aaron Moorehead and Justin Benson) begin investigating a series of bizarre paranormal events in their apartment building, they believe they’re onto unlocking a grand, unified theory of everything, one that’s potentially dangerous but eminently enlightening (and really cool). But, with each “revelation” they come upon, they sink deeper and deeper into a rabbit hole of confusion and chaos that fails to provide them with clear answers and begins to affect their relationship. The result is an aimlessly protracted stream of consciousness exercise that extends into so many areas of allegedly profound exploration and supposed metaphysical significance that the overall narrative comes across like a combination of intellectual masturbation and navel contemplation writ large, punctuated by pointedly polite insults thrown toward one another about how each of them is wasting his life (talk about irony). While this Independent Spirit Award nominee for the John Cassavettes Award has its share of clever editing, inventive cinematography and moments of genuinely inspired humor, much of the film plays like a collection of half-baked ideas, inside jokes and failed attempts at lamely connecting profound insights that arose between its collaborators over an evening of bong hits. Whatever movie industry clout, filmmaking credibility and cinematic goodwill the directors may have amassed in their previous effort, “The Endless” (2017), they’ve squandered it here with this meandering, unfocused workshop on how not to make a movie. But, then, that’s probably best evidenced in one of the picture’s closing credits, which says that the film is dedicated to friends making movies together – and, based on the results of this offering, it’s readily apparent what that gets you.