dir. Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
Having made their name with intimate, sprawling sci-fi indies that explore the fabric of time and space, directors Benson and Moorhead (Resolution; Spring; The Endless) return with another dizzying work; a lockdown project that follows a pair of neighbours as they become embroiled in an investigation into supernatural events.
Initially more approachable than previous films from the duo – and with a far more relaxed, conversational tone – Something in the Dirt quickly broadens into a symphony of ideas, a tangle of threads that, on a first watch, elude coalescing into a narrative whole. Here the pair’s high-concept-lo-fi style clashes with a woozy LA neo-noir that hints at Lynch or David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake, the story following tangents and clues that may be significant… or may be entirely irrelevant. Benson and Moorhead seem aware of this as they play with style and form, almost winking as they do so.
In this it feels like the duo (who characteristically take the lead roles) are tapping into our collective experience of modern life, bombarding us with scraps of information and leaving interpretation open to the viewer. An inspiring puzzle box then, Something in the Dirt is captivating and perplexing in equal measure, simultaneously impressive and confusing. Whilst not always satisfying, it nevertheless feels in need of a rewatch – or several – as a first visit barely scratches the surface of what lies at the core. There is something in the dirt: we’re just not quite sure what it is.
© Russell Bailey