Something Else (2019)
Directed by Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella
Written by Jeremy Gardner
Produced by Justin Benson, Arvind Harinath, David Lason Jr, Aaron Moorhead
Executive Producers Venu Kunnappilly, Tiffany Boyle, Elsa Ramo
Tribeca Film Festival 2019
Something Else is a near-perfect horror piece about a couple, Abby (Brea Grant) and Hank (Jeremy Gardner – who also wrote and co-directed). It is also a hysterical buddy movie.
We meet our couple on Abby’s birthday as they move into a once gorgeous, now dilapidated house that has been in Hank’s family for generations. They have a romance, they fall deeper in love, they get a kitten, they celebrate with friends, they drink lots of wine, they joke about the Peanut Noir that Hank has bought cases and cases of.
Then Abby leaves. We’re really not sure why at first – a handwritten note tacked to the cabinet gives the only clue to her disappearance. It reads “I had to leave. I’m sorry. I love you.”
While Hank deals with the absence of Abby, worrying, calling over and over, he experiences his own night terror – something is literally clawing at his front door. It returns each night, terrorizing him. With each subsequent night it grows more brazen and he grows more desperate, shooting at it, trying to trap it, hunting it. Even when he does shoot it or snare it in a trap, it eludes him. It escapes. Although he describes it as a monster we wonder if he is being honest with himself.
The local lawman, Shane (Justin Benson), is also Abby’s brother. He doesn’t seem to be concerned about Abby’s disappearance and offers little else but mockery at Hank’s requests for help with the monster. He jokes that when you ask, most people will say they’ve seen a ghost or a UFO, and the reality is that these things aren’t real, and neither is Hank’s monster.
The only person who will listen to Hank is his good friend, Wade (a hysterical Henry Zebrowski, who steals every scene he is in). They spend time at the bar Hank owns, and their friendship is the highlight of the movie. Whether their banter was scripted or not, it is some of the funniest, most enlightening dialogue in the movie: Two guys talking about nothing, telling us everything we need to know about who they are. Wade’s monologue on the “facts” about aliens is destined to be quoted over and over. If you are familiar with Gardner and co-director Christian Stella’s The Battery (2012), a buddy movie with zombies, then you know this is where the lifelong friends shine.
The movie takes its time. It’s well paced and allows the audience to squirm in possibilities: Is there a monster? Is Hank just going mad without Abby? Is Abby the monster and that’s why she had to go away? Is the monster just a metaphor for their failed relationship, haunting him night after night?
The movie unfortunately grinds to a screeching halt upon Abby’s return. Seated at the front door with Hank to await the nightly “appearance” she rambles for what seems like 10 minutes about commitment, their relationship, art, culture, wine, blah, blah, blah. This is followed by a cringe-worthy, karaoke-filled birthday party for Abby. But don’t worry – it’s worth the wait.
Something Else is a delight, and it isn’t just a movie about a monster, It’s a movie about a couple dealing with the changes that couples have as they grow and discover who they are and what they want out of life, and sometimes, worrying that you’ve started down the wrong path can be scary enough without a monster clawing at your door.