Something Else begins with the slowly building sound of radio static, and the image of Abby (Brea Grant) walking through a field. She looks somewhat worried, but is soon joined by Hank (Jeremy Gardner). It is Abby’s birthday, and Hank has a surprise planned for her at his old family home. Both of them seem joyous and hopeful.
The scene shifts suddenly, and this is punctuated by the sound of a shotgun blast. Hank, now bearded and disheveled, has barricaded himself within the house. He looks through the newly acquired hole in his door, then steps outside with his shotgun at the ready. The scene again shifts, back to the tender moment previously glanced. We soon learn that Abby has mysteriously gone missing. She has left a note behind, but it doesn’t say where she has gone or when she will return.
Much of Something Else plays out in a similar fashion, flashing back and forth between happier times and the present. Gardner portrays Hank as rather lost in Abby’s absence. He’s unsure whether the bills have been paid. He spends a little too much time drinking, both at home and at the bar. Occasionally Hank fires his shotgun at passing cars. And at night, he fends off some sort of attacking creature.
Something Else is a difficult film to classify, but an easy film to appreciate. It combines elements of heartfelt relationship drama, character study, paranoid thriller, and creature feature. Just when Something Else starts to settle into a groove, it shifts into, well, something else. With a less talented director and cast, this would be a recipe for frustration. But directors Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella deftly balance the heartbreak, humor, happiness, and horror this tale requires.
Though Something Else covers much different ground, a fairly apt comparison would be to Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead’s Spring. Both films combine a love story with a monster movie. Gardner played a role in Spring, and the favor is returned here. Justin Benson plays the important role of Shane, Abby’s brother. He and Moorhead also serve as producers on the film.
While much of the film focuses on Hank’s struggles (both internal and external), each actor in the film’s cast is given a memorable moment. Henry Zebrowski plays Hank’s friend Wade, and had me laughing multiple times. And Brea Grant simply shines in her role as Abby. She makes it easy to understand why Hank fell in love with her, and why he grieves when she’s gone.
Like many horror fans, my introduction to Jeremy Gardner was from his micro-budget zombie film The Battery. In the years since, his work both in front of and behind the camera has been of interest. His acting work in Something Else is hands-down the best we’ve yet seen from him. Gardner is equally impressive whether plumbing the depths of loss and paranoia, or showing humor and heart. He even reframes an overplayed 25 year old pop ditty in the process.
Christian Stella has been a frequent co-conspirator – in addition to directing both Something Else and Tex Montana Will Survive! with Gardner, Stella has also worked as an editor, cinematographer, score & sound mixer, and visual effects supervisor. His work here as cinematographer is effective in capturing the shifting moods of the film, and draws a clear distinction between them.
Gardner and Stella have honed their craft, and Something Else is all the richer for it. The film holds genuine surprises, and once the credits rolled I literally said aloud, “That was GREAT!” No one aside from my cats was around to hear it, but I stand by the exclamation.
Something Else is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival. Keep your eyes peeled for information about further release plans.
Whatever You Think It Is, It’s ‘Something Else’ [Tribeca Review]
Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella’s mashup of relationship drama and monster movie features a number of surprises, and strong performances from Gardner and Brea Grant.