Tribeca 2019: Something Else
In a small town not far from the Florida swamps, Hank (Jeremy Gardner, also pulling writer and co-director duties) sits watch over his dilapidated family plantation style home. Every night since his girlfriend Abby (Brea Grant) left him for more interesting surroundings, something has come out of the swamp at night, trying to gain entry. Hank looks for help from local friends but they all flip flop between humoring him and worrying for his mental health, so it’s mostly on his own shoulders to guard the house.
Much like the swamp monster that Something Else uses to threaten Hank, the film itself feels like a confused design. Not focused enough on the themes of isolation, loneliness and need for human connection, or on the creature itself (which is a gnarly design—something between the Creature From The Black Lagoon and a porcupine), neither aspect of the film truly lands all that well. In holding back the creature’s full form until very late in the film, and only having the protagonist encounter it, the structure of the plot made me question if Hank was really seeing anything at all. This makes its eventual reveal at the very end quite literally come out of nowhere, just like the resolution to the relationship drama driving Something Else’s dramatic through-line.
And that’s a damned shame, as the dramatic relationships between Abby and Hank is well developed, even despite mostly being shown in flashback. Abby is more than just a foggy memory of some ideal in Hank’s mind: we watch her react to his minor mistakes, such as loudly proclaiming he doesn’t want children to friends when it’s clear they haven’t discussed it, and we also see some very real moments of intimacy and caring. But because I was made to feel that Hank’s perception is to be questioned about the creature, Something Else wound up undercutting some of its best aspects. If we can’t trust the main story (or are made to feel that we can’t), how can we trust the memory of the same character?
I wound up frustrated with Something Else overall, as I can see where and what Gardner and his co-director Christian Sella were attempting for in what the film offers. The script is most of the way there, but stops just short of being successful in execution.