A young couple struggle to adjust to life with their new baby and their situation becomes worse as they begin to suffer from sleep deprivation in the independent movie Something.
In 1999, a $60,000 independent horror film titled The Blair Witch Project burst onto our cinema screens, scaring the hell out of a lot of people. It went on to make over $250 million dollars worldwide at the box office. Despite there being a couple of similar films made previous to its release, primarily ‘The Last Broadcast’, The Blair Witch Project became one of the most successful independent films of all time and was widely regarded to be the major movie influence to have popularized the found footage subgenre. Like any successful formula, found footage was later employed by a few Hollywood blockbusters and thousands-upon-thousands of low-to-no-budget filmmakers, all hoping to copy and create the next Blair Witch.
A few years later, it was another horror called Paranormal Activity that once again led the way. Made for $15,000 Paranormal Activity raked in a total of $193 million dollars and became the most profitable movie ever made based on a return of investment. Now comes the psychological horror ‘Something’ from writer-director Stephen Portland and, although it is not up to the standards of those two found footage behemoths, it does carve its own little niche and is worth praising for what it does well.
We are introduced to a young couple played extremely well by Jane Rowen and Michael Gazin. They have both been on maternity leave from work so they can spend some time with their newborn baby. Unfortunately, the child hasn’t been sleeping and therefore neither have the parents. Suffering from exhaustion, Mum becomes forgetful and lethargic, beginning to mislay things, while dad starts to suspect his wife may be suffering from some sort of postnatal depression. As they begin to suspect strange occurrences are happening in the house the audience is never sure if they are experiencing these things for real.
‘Something’ takes a while to get going with regards to the main plot, I was sent the film to review ‘blind’ which means I knew nothing of the production or the genre, and I found the opening 20 minutes of this couple doing the mundane things of parenting a little cumbersome. Paranormal Activity used a similar type of build up but what that film did well was manage to make silence far more entertaining than fast cuts and special effects. For extended periods of ‘Something’ nothing much happens and unlike Paranormal Activity it did get a little boring.
That said there is a lot to like about ‘Something’ with regards to the technical side of things; I was very impressed with what was on show. The house was lavishly dressed making use of good production design. The sound was excellent and, other than a couple of fades that seemed a bit too abrupt for my liking, it was very well done. Likewise, the acting is very good and the ‘stranger’ is certainly a memorable movie monster. The script, despite using a few tried and trusted jump scares as well as the oft-used ‘it’s a cat moment’, is fine with some twists and turns to spice it up. You feel at first that this will be all about mum’s post natal depression and mental illness, but it all leads to a much less expected conclusion which is certainly unpredictable.
I would have liked to have known a bit more about the young couple, we are not even given their names, as I think that would have helped us to empathise with them a bit more. However, there is a genuine feeling of unease that permeates the home and the characters and it leaves you thinking about the movie long after it has finished. The fact it also manages to give us a cameo from Eric Roberts who is always good value is simply a bonus.
Although there is nothing groundbreaking on show here, ‘Something’ is genuinely creepy, and for managing to achieve all that with what little he had to work with, I give Stephen Portland full credit and a round of applause.