Between studying theatre and living in LA, I know a few people in that crazy little business of making motion pictures. Every once in a while I get treated to a preview of a film before it premiers. My favorites are the independent ones like Milk and Teary Sockets that are dark, quirky, and downright entertaining to watch.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on an advanced screener of a new independent horror comedy called The Selling set to premier this Friday at the San Francisco International Film Festival. (MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD!)
The Selling is the brainchild of Gabriel Diani, a fellow San Francisco State University alumni (we’ve never met) who wrote, produced and starred in the film. It’s directed by Emily Lou, also a San Francisco State University alumni (we’ve never met either) in her feature film directorial debut.
Y’all know I heart me some horror comedy. The Evil Dead series is quite possibly my very favorite campy horror film franchise of all time…in fact, I know it is and despite my fear of zombies, I allowed you guys to convince me to watch Zombieland this past weekend. (Granted, I was still scared and still had nightmares BUT at least the nightmares were sort of funny this time.)
Anyhooters, enough about me and my weirdness, I’m actually super excited to tell you about The Selling and I sincerely hope that you all manage to get your hands on a copy of it. First off, the animated opening credits are a great teaser and something totally unexpected. They made me chuckle more than once and how often can you say that about what is essentially a roll call?
The film centers around Richard Scarry (you know, like the children’s book author) and Dave Ross, two real estate agents trying to make some quick cash by flipping a house sold to them by their beautiful but bitchy coworker Mary Best. They very quickly discover that the house is haunted by 12 ghosts that aren’t exactly keen on having roommates (I can sympathize).
Much of the cast will likely look familiar to you. That’s because many of them have been featured in one or more TV shows or movies that you’ve seen. Gabriel Diani is adorable as the protagonist Richard. He brings a genuine sweetness to his character. He can be a bit of a pushover but at least he’s aware of it while it’s happening. He’s at his best when he’s showing the house to potential buyers after he’s accepted the presence of the ghosts inhabiting it.
Jonathan Klein plays Dave, the best friend who gets them in this mess in the first place. Once the ghosts reveal themselves he refuses to go inside again until the climax. He displays excellent comedic timing and reacts to situations in ways that most people would…but in funnier ways…if that makes sense. Janet Varney looks like a much prettier, much blonder version of Fairuza Balk. I’m sure she’s a very nice person in real life but in this movie she takes her role as self-serving mega bitch Mary Best quite seriously and I found her to be the most interesting character in the film.
Etta Devine (if that is her real name then she seriously has some of the coolest parents ever) is quirky and cute as Ginger Sparks (ok, seriously, how did she get the best names both in real life AND in the movie??) a ghost habitat preservationist who attempts to help Richard and Dave…mostly Richard…by making out with him…not that I can blame her. I relate to her because I can be a weepy, horny drunk as well.
Nancy Lenehan plays Richard’s Mom and she’s probably my favorite character in the whole movie. Without giving too much away, there is a scene in the hospital between her and Richard that literally had me LMAO. The person you can’t help but recognize is Brad Majors himself, Mr. Barry Bostwick. He plays the Catholic priest, a staple in any movie featuring exorcisms. Father Jimmy doesn’t carry his holy water in ounces, nope, he brings a liter of the stuff. What he does, he does big.
Oh, and Buffy fans, recognize the guy at the beginning of the trailer who’s interested in buying the house? Yep, that’s Harry “Mayor of Sunnydale” Groener.
Emily Lou is a talented upcoming director. The way she frames her shots is fun and fantastical. At times it seems as though she simply set the camera on the floor and let it work its magic. Other times she chooses unique and unexpected angles that are surprising in their creativity.
For an indie film the special effects are pretty amazing, especially when it comes to the ghosts. Many of the scares are intentionally predictable (closing the medicine cabinet and seeing a ghosts reflection) and aid in the film’s comedy; however, I found myself genuinely scared a couple of times, something that doesn’t usually happen with me during ghost movies (afraid of zombies, remember?)
I keep finding myself wanting to talk about plot points because there were so many that I found amusing but I’m trying to be very careful not to give away the movie. The hardest part is refraining from giving away some of the best lines in the film (and yes, I actually wrote them down). All I’ll say is that I’m totally stealing the “Sizzler voice.”
If you’ve ever been to the movies with me you know that I stay and sit through the credits. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that my stepdad is a Foley Artist and I was taught that everyone who works on a movie deserves to be recognized for their hard work. Their faces may not be seen but their names should be. The second reason is that there are often little snippets during or at the end of the credits that are worth waiting for. Sadly, I’m often the only person who sees them. If you get an opportunity to view The Selling you’ll want to stick around for the ending credits which are HI-larious. My favorite part? When Dave tries to open and eat potato chips in a completely silent hospital room. We have all been there and Ginger’s reaction to his munching is classic.
Four out of five Sci-Fives!