Hitmen is the latest film from UK gangster auteur Savvas D. Michael and it’s another signature feature from him with much to be offended by. A married couple from London, totally out of character, beat to death an obnoxious gap year student from America whose powerful family connections in the US put a $1 million bounty on their heads giving licence to a collection of hitmen to hunt them down. Available 5th June 2023 on DVD, Blu-ray, all VOD platforms and select cinemas.

Luke (Daniel Caltagirone) and Lauren Loveday (Lois Brabin-Platt) are a seemingly ordinary common married couple from London having a drink in an East End pub, owned by Lauren’s brother the physically imposing and East End gruff Tony (Charlie Rawes). Their 10 year marriage is at a crossroads with Lauren wanting a divorce saying they’ve grown apart since she was a young girl. Their conversation is interrupted by Jackie (Max Lohan) a young American gap year student who tries to chat up Lauren and the ensuing argument leads to a violent outbreak resulting in Jackie’s brutal beating.

The news of Jackie’s untimely death gets back to his beloved grandfather Michael Hero (Eric Roberts) in the US. Michael, a powerful self-made immigrant CEO of a blue chip company, puts the wheels in motion to get revenge for his favoured grandson’s murder. He sends his henchmen The Major (Nentley Kalu) and adopted son Danny (Elijah Rowen) (who incidentally narrates the film) to meet Don Salvatore Piazza (Marco Leonardi), a mafioso type character in Italy to make the necessary hitmen arrangements. Meanwhile Michael’s real son and Jackie’s father, Paris (Ronan Summers), is looking to get back into favour with his father by revenging his son’s death himself. Realising there is a ransom on their heads Luke and Lauren go into hiding and so ensues a farcical hide and seek with the pursuing assassins.

Put together under the Saints and Savages production, the clue is in the name here. What Savvas D. Michael does well is put together a stylised film with plenty of swagger but there is also an overt amount of bad mouthing tirades and political incorrectness that would have many a human rights campaigner up in arms.

The script, which has picked out some crowd pleasing genre themes of violence and revenge, is told with a Scorsese like commentary. Unfortunately here’s where the similarities end as Savvas D. Michael’s attempts at a profoundly poignant narration is bewildering at times with lines like, “A great man like Michael would see his resurrection or revenge.”

It has the makings of a good gangster film. The cast is an interesting ensemble of characters with the assassins having various murderous ticks and typically he introduces a headline name or two along with some of his regular cast members. The locations are established with cinematic aerial shots and the violence, gunfire and explosions are pulled off with Hollywood like effects; all emotively pieced together with his eclectic sound track of classical opera and world music.

A UK independent film with an ambitious script reaching out to an international audience, it’s a totally over the top mix of violent action and comedic farce; Savvas D. Michael is clearly on a mission to offend his audience while having a good time making movies.

Film: Hitmen

Director: Savvas D. Michael

Genre: Action

Stars: Eric Roberts, Charlie Rawes, Ronan Summers

Run time: 1hr 49mins

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5

Much Ado (2023)

Much Ado by Hillary and Anna-Elizabeth Shakespeare (yes, their real names are Shakespeare, but presumably no relation) is a film version of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing set in the present day where a rugby team arrives for a house party in the Suffolk countryside. Much Ado will be available on digital download from 24th April.

Using the actual dialogue from the original Shakespeare play (albeit ever so slightly chopped and reformatted) a mini bus with the ‘Aragon’ rugby team breaks-down and calls in at the house of Leonato (Peter Saracen) for some well acquainted hospitality. Leonato welcomes them to his home with his daughter Hero (Jody Larcome) and niece Beatrice (Emma Beth Jones) by putting on a party. Close friends, the girls are looking for love and their affections for Claudio (Luke Hunter) and Benedick (Johnny Lucas) are coyly played out in tandem.

Pedro (James McClellend) is the confident leader of the arriving rugby team who says he will help cupid’s cause by wooing Hero for Claudio. This peculiar offer turns out well for the pair at first whose romance starts to blossom, but this is just the beginning as John (Jack Boal), the unreconciled and malicious bastard brother of Pedro, is hell bent on causing as much mischief as possible for the courting couple with the assistance of his followers Conrade (Ed Francis) and Borachio (Nils Behling). 

Meanwhile Beatrice and Benedick are doing everything possible to show they are not interested in each other’s affections with their often scathing insults towards one and other. So it is again down to Pedro to give cupid a helping hand, concocting a plan to get each of them to believe the other is head over heals in love. The farcical conversations are then staged for Benedick and Beatrice to overhear in the hope of igniting their belief in one another’s love.

Set in a very big house in the countryside this one location provides a perfect backdrop with its extensive grounds for a posh teen house party complete with an indoor swimming pool, tennis court, sauna and roof top jacuzzi all put to good use, scene by scene, as the story unfolds through the course of the party. 

Emma Beth Jones is in her element playing the feisty Beatrice working with Shakespeare’s dialogue that still fizzes and resonates despite its datedness. Generally you can’t win using the original Shakespeare script – too slow and deliberate it becomes stilted, too fast and naturalistic and the words get lost in the deluge of exchanges. The directors and cast have to be given credit here for the playful way they’ve brought the script to life and there’s even a role for Balthasar the singer (Joseph Emms) who plays his guitar adding a touch of boy band pop to ‘hey nonny, nonny’.

Film: Much Ado (2023)

Director: Hillary and Anna-Elizabeth Shakespeare

Genre: Drama, Romcom

Stars: Emma Beth Jones, James McCelland, Luke Hunter

Run time: 1hr 56mins

Rated: 12A

Rating: 3/5

God’s Creatures

A son’s return home to a remote Irish fishing village brings delight to his mother but when he is accused of a serious crime her loyalty to him tests her own sensibilities of right and wrong, which has devastating consequences on the local community. Opening in UK cinemas from 31st March.

A mother Aileen O’Hara (Emily Watson) is overjoyed at the return of her son Brian (Paul Mescal) to the family home in a small fishing village in Ireland, albeit he’s arrived during the wake of another young local fisherman lost to the sea, and so revealing the harsh tradition of the fishermen of not learning how to swim in case they try to save one another.

The son has returned home from his time spent in Australia and is now looking to start afresh back in the family business of oyster farming. He’s keen to get on, but it is clear he left to get away from some unresolved family strife between himself and his father, which lends to a troubled atmosphere under the family roof once again, despite his initial warm welcome.

The close knit community is centred around the fishing industry where Aileen fills another matriarchal role at the fish sorting factory, overseeing the workforce in a supervisory role. The largely female workforce show their close camaraderie and dedication to their jobs despite its unrelenting demands. The local pub is another focal point of the community bringing people together for some welcome relief from the daily toil with singing and dancing. It is here Brian meets up with Sarah (Aisling Franciosi), one of the factory girls who later accuses him of the crime that puts his mother Aileen in a scrupulous position. Her instincts make her side with the son she dotes on and in doing so cuts Sarah adrift turning the village on its head.

Produced by Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly and written by Shane Crowley both of whom hail from a similar remote fishing village in Ireland fictionalised here, they look to explore the darker side of life in a community, which may hold more stories and secrets far saltier than the sea they reside by.

Directed by two New Yorkians Saela Davis & Anna Rose Holmer, who were especially chosen to bring a fresh pair of eyes to the enchanting Irish coastline, they’ve conjured a stormy tale, which has been atmospherically enhanced here by a haunting musical score to match.

Paul Mescal who plays Brian has the air of the good son returning home but also has the physical presence and look to know he’s accustomed to handling the menacing conditions. Emily Watson bravely takes on the sea, willing to don the waders and get waist deep in the North Atlantic Ocean and is equally brave in taking on an Irish accent, which has benefited from some pronunciation coaching. Aisling Franciosi’s Sarah has a stoic look of resignation in the face of adversity, initially shown in her soft melancholic Irish folk ballad singing when she does a turn in the pub. The supporting cast include some local Irish characters too that maintain the Irish authenticity and fishery know-how throughout the film, which the production design team especially profited from when they needed to re-create the factory location in order to fit the camera movements in.

The Irish coastal village makes for an epic backdrop with its steep cliff faces, crashing coastal waves and lofty horizons. The action jumps quicker than a sinkhole from the accusation to the aftermath as the mother repudiates her son’s guilt and things quickly career out of control, but from the opening sequence until the end its the humbling continuity of the sea that giveth and that can taketh away.

Film: God’s Creatures

Director: Saela Davis & Anna Rose Holmer

Genre: Drama

Stars: Emily Watson, Paul Mescal, Aisling Franciosi

Run time: 1hr 40mins

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5


Jethica is a dark comedy horror about a young woman’s story, told retrospectively from the back seat of a casual lover’s car as she confesses how she killed someone. Jethica is available to own or rent in the UK & Ireland via AppleTV, Amazon, Sky Store, Virgin Media, Google Play and RakutenTV.

Elena (Callie Hernandez) has hooked up with a stranger in the back of his car and after some forced small talk begins to confess her story of how she accidentally kills someone and why she was living alone in her Grandma’s trailer in New Mexico. She flashes back to meeting an old college friend Jessica (Ashley Denise Robinson) at the gas station near there and after inviting her to stay at her grandma’s she discovers Jessica has her own confession to make.

Jessica has a stalker (Will Madden) who has been constantly sending her videos and letters obsessing over their non-existent relationship and when he turns up suddenly looking for her the two girls turn to Elena’s grandma’s mystic ways with the afterlife to get rid of him.

Directed and produced by Peter Ohs as well as being co-written with the leading actors there’s a shared albeit slightly discombobulated vision that comes through in the script as various different tropes are added. The relationship between the two female friends Elena and Jessica is done in a quiet but afflicted way as one advises the other on how they should deal with their stalker situation using some voodoo like witchcraft. All the while the stalker rambles on incessantly with a lisp and painted face not unlike a cartoon caricature as he attempts to get in contact with Jessica. He manages to pitifully evoke a sense of sympathy as his delusional longing for his victim goes undeterred by his absolute rejection.

There’s a morbid poignancy to the film with the wide shots of the arid dessert landscape and its long roads providing a spectacular cinematic backdrop, which also intensifies the loneliness of the characters searching for somewhere to belong as they deal with their own personal strife. 

Jethica may not have you hiding behind the sofa but if you manage to watch it to its ambling end it’s the kind of movie that leaves a lasting melancholic thought not least for being the antithesis to the more typical gnawing for brains zombie horrors.      

Film: Jethica

Director: Pete Ohs

Genre: Drama, Comedy, Horror

Stars: Callie Hernandez, Ashley Denise Robinson and Will Madden

Run time: 1hr 11mins

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5

On The Line

A late night radio host has to think fast on his feet when a creepy stalker tries to blackmail him live on air after taking his family hostage. On The Line will be available on Amazon Prime from Friday 3rd February.

Featuring Mel Gibson who plays Elvis, ‘the legendary’ late night radio host, a likeable but difficult person with a reputation for pranking his colleagues mercilessly. No one is safe from his scathing roastings especially his fellow host Justin (Kevin Dillon) who he jibes with typical rants that aren’t without humour. Working alongside him is his regular radio show side-kick Mary (Alia Seror-O’Neil) and a new studio intern from London, Dylan (William Moseley), whose English sensibilities and accent are a prime target for Elvis’ pranking. 

With 40 years’ experience at the station, he’s attracted his fair share of weirdos on the late night talk show, although he is more than cable of handling these using his smooth talking radio diplomacy but when his family is targeted by a caller’s (Paul Spera) vendetta against him, he finds himself in an all too personal hostage negotiation live on air. Unable to cut the caller off in fear of him harming his family he’s at the mercy of the caller’s demands.

From French Writer Director Romuald Boulanger, who is someone who knows a thing or two about radio broadcasting as a former radio presenter himself with his own popular comedy show, you might guess this isn’t going to be a straight-forward thriller. The tone is set from the very beginning as Mel Gibson sends himself up as a tortured captive and he fits the bill well as the radio station’s star name with his raspy voice and droll acerbic wit. The creepy caller played by Paul Spera has the sinister menace on the phone as the threatening omnipresent force, which builds along with the body count into a farcical parody.

Whilst the script stretches the levels of plausibility and the clichés become predictably leaden there’s enough at stake to carry the movie towards its live on air conclusion(s) in a pastiche tribute call to the late night radio show host.

Film: On The Line

Director: Romuald Boulanger

Genre: Thriller

Stars: Mel Gibson, Kevin Dillon

Run time: 1hr 44mins

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5

I Love My Dad

An award winning festival film, I Love My Dad is about an estranged father who decides the only way to get his relationship back with his son is to catfish him pretending to be his girlfriend but it’s only a matter of time before his desperate attempts begin to backfire as his son wants to meet her (him!) in person.

The son, Franklin (James Morosini), is not in a good place. He’s seeking group therapy for his suicidal thoughts, revealing he’s blocked his dad, Chuck (Patton Oswalt) from his social media contacts as he’s had enough of his lying and broken promises. His dad meanwhile is distraught he’s been cut off by his son and is now even more concerned about his welfare. Opening up to a sweet waitress at a diner Chuck comes up with the idea to create an online profile of the waitress (Claudia Sulewski), to get in contact with his son online. This is clearly frowned upon not least by his colleague (Lil Rel Howery) who tells him in plain English, “This is the creepiest s***t I’ve ever seen.” But Chuck continues undeterred fastidiously putting together the profile and some how manages to friend his son on Facebook posing as a pretty lone girl on the internet looking to make a connection with someone. His son’s early scepticism soon disappears because of the ease in which he is able to communicate with Becca – who is in fact of course his dad.

They get along great chatting online, sharing the same interests and as the feelings grow for one another so does the cringe factor as the son starts to talk more intimately online with his father. There are some obvious stages of a relationship that his dad can’t keep avoiding, firstly actually speaking over the phone, which he manages to get around by persuading his partner to call up as ‘Becca’ on the phone. It isn’t before too long that his son wants to meet her in person, something his dad is desperately trying to avoid so he can keep the relationship going. All the while things are getting more awkward and likely to be leading to messing up his son far more than he was in the first place.

With the strapline, “Inspired by a true story. Like, this literally happened to me.” It’s a story so twisted and dark it would be hard to imagine a loving father wanting to do this in real life without a majorly dark sense of humour. The fact that it is written, directed and acted by the son, James Morosini, provides an empathetic handling of this messed up virtual relationship that is handled with great humour and sensitivity. The relationship is brilliantly played out in the film using the characters’ avatars as they chat online to one another. So when Franklin is speaking to ‘Becca’ online, even though it’s actually his dad doing the typing, we see her and hear her voice sat next to him as they chat, providing a real sense of the intimacy and creepiness going on. This reaches a climatic crescendo when they start sexting each other with the cringe factor reaching another level altogether.

I Love My Dad will be available on Digital Download from 23rd January 2023

Film: I Love My Dad

Director: James Morosini

Genre: Comedy

Stars: Patton Oswalt, James Morosini, Claudia Sulewski

Run time: 1hr 36mins

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5

Poison Arrows

This is the darts mockumentary that is long overdue, especially for its makers who have taken 22 years to finish it. It’s the story of Rocky Goldfingers, a 6 times world darts champion put in prison for the murder of his darts protege Perry ‘the Poison Arrow’ Peters. It’s a crime he denies doing and his quest to uncover the true culprit is being documented by filmmaker Lewis J Maitland who’s hoping to win himself an elusive BAFTA award.

The film goes back to the heyday of Rocky Goldfingers showing him strutting around the Lakeside Country Club, the one time home of darts, during the 2003 World Darts Championship. Rocky is mercilessly mocking the players in the press area and players’ bar showing off his “different class of sledging” as well as delivering his match winning performances. This all comes to an abrupt end when he’s put in jail after the mysterious disappearance of his protege Perry ‘the Poison Arrow’ Peters.

Documentary filmmaker Lewis J Maitland (Ben Gardner Gray) narrates the story giving a quick history of the darts before bringing us to the present day by which time Rocky has spent 15 years banged up in jail. On his release Rocky discovers the world is a very different place to the one he left behind, not least because his wife has left him and Martin “Wolfie” Adams has moved into his home, “the house that darts built”. No longer the golden boy of darts Rocky is battling against the odds to try to find out who “stitched him up”.

Starring Geoff Bell (Greenstreets, Kingsman: Secret Service) as Rocky Goldfingers, who is full of the kind of cockney swagger that got him cast in Guy Richie’s “Rock ‘n’ Rolla” and James Harkness, as Terence, Rocky’s cellmate and sidekick, who brings another entertaining, this time Scottish accent to a script full of funny one-liners.

There are numerous cameo appearances throughout played with deadpan assuredness from the likes of Barry Hearn OBE (Chairman PDC), Ray Stubbs (BBC sports presenter) and the darts professionals themselves (albeit now mostly retired since filming began) like Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams, Bobby George and James Wade, that have just the right amount of gusto not to make them cringeworthy viewing.

From director Simon Sprackling (Breakfast with Johnny Wilkinson), known for his bold off-centre low budget filmmaking, the film is a remarkable feat of perseverance having started filming back in 2002. With access to the 2003 World Darts Championship he shot the film between the gaps in the match schedules, mixing real tournament players and crowds with his spoof script. But the film was put on ice due to budgetary restrictions – for 20 years! Eventually with a renewed interest to complete the film the script had to be re-jigged because of the loss of key personnel, like the actor playing Perry “The Poison Arrow” Peters. Not wanting to waste the priceless tournament footage, he’s cleverly used it as genuine archive material in his own mockumentary.

It’s a raucous comedy crime caper, that will appeal to the UK cockney gangster audience as well as the “Eurosport” viewers of darts. With plenty of swearing warranting its 18 certification be ready to cover your ears if easily offended. Nervous? “Just have a lager.”

Available on all major digital platforms from 3rd January 2023.

Film: Poison Arrows

Director: Simon Sprackling

Genre: Mockumentary, comedy

Stars: Geoff Bell, James Harkness, Ben Gardner Gray, Carrie Hilton

Run time: 1hr 35mins

Rated: 18

Rating: 3/5

Hunt vs Lauda: The Next Generation

The sons of two legends of Formula One motor racing, Hunt and Lauda, go head to head in celebration of their father’s epic 1976 Championship dual, as they look to recapture some of the famous rivalry and friendship on and off the track.

Racing team boss Joseph Thomas first hit upon the idea to re-create this piece of motorsport history after watching “Rush“, Ron Howard’s biopic film about the famous F1 Championship of ’76, which still remains one of the most epic title races in motorsport history.

This time around it’s not James Hunt vs Niki Lauda, it’s their sons Freddie and Mathias. Both have been keen racing drivers over the years albeit not quite in the same class as their fathers. Mathias edges things in terms of experience but that doesn’t seem to worry a highly competitive Freddie who doesn’t want to let the family side down particularly in this filmed showdown.

There are some nice video montages re-telling the famous Hunt vs Lauda story as well as interviews providing the back stories to the sons on how they got introduced to racing along with memories of their fathers, with some emotional responses particularly from Freddie, who lost his father at a young age.

Comparisons will be drawn between the two sons particularly as they share similar personality traits to their well-known fathers. James Hunt was considered the glamorous playboy and a bit reckless on the track hence the nickname “Hunt the shunt”, whilst Niki Lauda was more calculated in his preparation and a steadier performer going on to win 3 World Championships. Similarly, Mathias is much more calm and collected, he’s set up home in Ibiza with his wife and children and lives a more carefree existence pursing his sporting interests. Meanwhile Freddie, based in Scotland, has a similar wild side to his father and seems to have had more difficulty finding his way trying to live up to his father’s legacy.

Directed by Charlotte Fantelli the F1 archive footage brings a sense of history to the proceedings, which is always going to be difficult for the drivers to match here, but that doesn’t detract from enjoying this very British motor racing encounter. Shot at the iconic Donington race track, there’s more at stake than meets the eye between two men racing for fun but also for their family bragging rights.

Hunt vs Lauda: The Next Generation will be available on DVD & Digital Download from 19th December and can be pre-ordered here.

Film: Hunt vs Lauda: The Next Generation

Director: Charlotte Fantelli

Genre: Documentary, Motorsport

Stars: Freddie Hunt, Mathias Lauda, Marlene Lauda

Run time: 1hr 20mins

Rated: 12

Platforms: Amazon, iTunes, Google, Microsoft, Sky

Rating: 3/5

25 Years of UK Garage

’25 Years of UK Garage’ takes a look back at the UK garage scene paying homage to the DJ’s, MC’s and producers who made it happen. With interviews from the breaking artists at the time, the documentary charts the success of the UK garage scene from its fledgling beginnings to its hedonistic peak before its downfall and then making a surprising festival comeback attracting new crowds both young and old.

Taking us through some of the history are Terry Stone and Jason Kaye, the masterminds behind Garage Nation (a spin-off of their One Nation rave events), who became major players in putting on garage events during the ’90’s and 00’s. Their knack for finding the top talent such as the chart topping So Solid Crew along with booking the best venues put them front and centre of the UK garage scene.

With its sound coming from US garage and hip hop mixed with the UK jungle and drum and base, UK garage was finding its audience on the radio through the likes of one of its earliest proponents DJ EZ. Tracking back to the pirate radio stations such as Supreme FM and Delight FM, the interviewees explain how by setting up these DIY stations they risked everything i.e. their records and equipment, if caught by the DTI (Department for Trade and Industry). The relationship between the pirate radio stations and the rave events, flyers, dubplates (the promo records played at events) and tape packs from the MC’s and DJ’s were crucial in helping the scene take off in London with the track “Casualty” by Oxide and Neurtino one of the first to “blow up”.

Now considered Old Skool, it has been superseded by the likes of drill and grime music, but UK Garage at the time was one of the biggest music scenes to happen in London and UK with its hedonistic party atmosphere mix of music, girls, champagne, designer clothes (Versace, Moschino and Patrick Cox some of the brands of choice) and designer drugs. Through a healthy competition between the DJs and MCs they pushed themselves to new highs and these ground breaking times seemed to culminate in the take-over of the holiday party island of Ayia Napa.

Terry and his team took the Garage Nation brand to the island, bringing over the DJs and by then garage had become mainstream with a number 1 track in the charts, “Do you really like it?“, and the unmistakable voice of MC DT singing “We’re loving it, loving it, loving it.”

There is much joy taken by them in reminiscing about the parties on the island, but their euphoria couldn’t last forever as they tell how the good vibes were getting overshadowed by overzealous punters, gangsters and violence, which was getting too much for the locals and the local police, who wanted their sleepy fishing town in the Mediterranean back.

There was a similar pattern happening in the UK with the gangs getting more violent, with more stabbings and more shootings. The garage scene was getting a bad reputation and the government and police were cracking down on the venues who became reluctant to book garage acts in case there was any trouble.

Bookings were on the decline but enter James Shadimehr, a young 19 year old student, who’d picked up the event bug putting on under 18 discos. He bought the Garage Nation brand with the support from his family and after many dark days and years, including a pandemic lockdown, he’s managed to re-energise the Garage Nation brand and re-invent it not just as a club night but a festival with 10,000 party goers, bringing back the halcyon days.

Directed by Terry Stone and Richard Turner “25 Years of UK Garage” is a nostalgic look back at a highly influential music scene in the UK. Amongst the pioneering DJs, MCs (mostly the So Solid Crew and Heartless Crew) and producers are several well-known faces in the music industry including DJ Matt ‘Jam’ Lamont, Ms Dynamite, MC Harvey, Lisa Maffia and Dane Bowers plus a special guest, impromptu performance from boxer Anthony Joshua.

What’s interesting is seeing this social cross-section of London’s youth culture at that time and hearing about the journeys they went on. Some of the conversations are quite unfiltered as they nostalgically reminisce about their triumphs as well as their misdemeanours with one DJ commenting, “Clubland has always been a bit naughty no matter what era you were from.”

It’s entertaining seeing the two different styles between the old skool proprietors of Garage Nation, Terry Stone and Jason Kaye, put side by side with the new younger generation of James Shadimehr, they seem like chalk and cheese in their approaches, but aim to have an equally big impact on UK Garage.

Surprisingly the music takes a quieter back seat for the most part, playing softly in the background and doesn’t get a proper airing until the final credits, probably due to budgetary restrictions.

What will be next from Terry Stone or James Shadimehr and Garage Nation? Those interested in a good nostalgic fix will certainly be tuning in.

“25 Years of UK Garage” will be available on Digital from 5 December. Follow the film via their social channels or on TikTok.

Film: 25 Years of Garage

Director: Terry Stone & Richard Turner

Genre: Documentary, Music

Stars: Richie Campbell, Anthony Joshua, MC Harvey, Lisa Maffia & Megaman

Run time: 1hr 30mins

Rated: TBC

Rating: 3/5

Something In The Dirt

An eerily entertaining supernatural sci-fi comedy from directors Moorhead and Benson where two new neighbours stumble across some supernatural activity in an L.A. apartment and are determined to get it on camera to make some money regardless of the unknown danger of the paranormal powers at work.

The story begins with Levi (Justin Benson) waking up on the floor of his new, dilapidated, apartment. He’s just moved in and there’s a strange creaking sound and a dripping ceiling. Things aren’t all what they seem. He sees John (Aaron Moorhead) his neighbour sitting outside and goes out to chat to him. They’re kind of opposites, Levi is the grungy long haired barman type trying to make it in L.A. and John is the more clean-cut photographer relying on his second job to make ends meet, but they do share the same unfulfilled work-life experience.

John helps Levi move in and they discover the strange paranormal activity happening in the apartment (some floating objects and strange reflecting lights). Both are keen on filming the supernatural activity to profit from it. As an ex-maths teacher John has been reading up on some mathematical theories and when he discovers some identical symbols all around the city he starts to develop a theory this could be a much wider city phenomena. This sets the two of them off trying to join the dots between various conspiracy theories about aliens whilst all the while trying to capture the evidence on video. The film meanwhile cuts to documentary style interviews talking retrospectively about what happened and it quickly transpires that things don’t turn out well for both of them.

Written, directed, produced and performed by Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson the story makes for a quirky sci-fi comedy with some interesting layers to it. The film within a film idea, having the guys making a documentary, provides plenty of opportunity for some indie filmmaking in-jokes, whilst the mockumentary style interviews cleverly give the audience the impression this could actually be a true story. All the while the two main characters bounce off of one another, both are a bit edgy and you’re never really sure how scrupulous either is as the growingly bizarre events unfold.

The cinematography builds the atmosphere brought together with lots of quick edits. Not afraid to shoot into the light to capture the interior apartment shots and the L.A. sunshine along with the glaring paranormal activity, the guys even suggest the name for their documentary should be “Something In The Light”. The visual effects subtly create the illusion of the paranormal activity without ever going overboard. Who needs a flying saucer when you’ve got an equally impressive flying crystal ashtray. Similarly the sound design is quietly efficient in adding tension when needed reaching a rousing crescendo with a uniquely performed rendition of Beethoven’s 9th.

‘Moorhead and Benson’ are fast on their way to gaining a cult indie status as writers and directors, if they weren’t there already. Here they show their diversity by playing the two main characters, showing the kind of manic chemistry on screen that suggests they have a lot of fun making movies together.

It has a ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ sensibility that builds the suspense and tension. Entertaingly humorous, loaded with good visual gags it manages to draw you into the supernatural mystery despite its convoluted assortment of theories.

Something In The Dirt will be on Digital Download + Blu-ray from 5th December.

Film: Something In The Dirt

Director: Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson

Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror

Stars: Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson, Sarah Adina Smith & Vinny Curran

Run time: 1hr 56mins

Rated: 15

Rating: 3/5