Directing duo Moorhead & Benson (Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson) have made a name for themselves as sci-fi indie darlings, gifting audiences with strange but riveting gems where they often take on directing, writing, acting, producing, editing, and cinematography roles. After providing some of the best moments in Marvel's Moon Knight as directors, many feared their creative indie days were over. Thankfully, that isn't the case.
Something In The Dirt will be familiar to those with an affinity for their earlier works, such as Resolution and The Endless, with their weird vibes that only grows weirder, and engrossing characters that unravel and go mad. Moorhead & Benson's return to their roots see themselves play neighbours John (Moorhead) and Levi (Benson) who witness a freaky supernatural event in Levi's apartment. From there, the pair decide to attempt to document the strange miracle they witness – but of course they end up going down a dark rabbit hole.
Everything about Something In The Dirt is just plain weird but Moorhead & Benson relish in it and turn it into a thematic observation. The Los Angeles setting is a weird environment with constant forest fires, humming of electricity and architectural patterns that may or may not be coincidental. The people who populate LA are strange too, with Levi and John portrayed as these weirdo individuals who might have darker tendencies hidden away.
In their past work, it's always the directing and writing that stand out but here their performances should be equally celebrated too. John is exciting to watch as the more put together person who asks the bigger questions when things become unexplainable, but it's Levi who steals the show. Benson creates this endearing character who can't seem to catch a break but definitely has some dirty secrets hidden away. The push and pull of whether you want to trust this character and get on their side adds to the excitement of an already engaging film.
This review has been light on plot so far as most of the fun with a Moorhead & Benson film is throwing yourself into their cosmic adventure and thinking “WTF!” along with their characters. Something In The Dirt definitely nails that aspect, but not in the way you think. After an end of act one twist, the intelligent narrative structure is revealed and keeps you guessing about what is going on far beyond the credits rolling.
There's a meta core to the film that is truly exciting. As well as providing some snappy editing and fast-paced scenes, it puts you directly into the shoes of Levi and John whilst simultaneously putting them at arm's length, as you question their every action and decision. The key aspect of all of this, however, is how just like the characters, you're pulled into the cosmic mystery just as you're about to duck out and carry on with your mundane existence.
Something In The Dirt might be a tad overlong but otherwise it's great to see Moorhead & Benson back in their roots crafting another absorbing sci-fi mystery on a shoestring budget. Like their previous works this isn't so much about getting the answers but about what we do to ask the questions and search for the truth. Only this time you'll be more involved than you could ever imagine – whether you like it or not.
Something In The Dirt will be available on Digital Download + Blu-ray from 5th December