SFIFF – The Selling

I’m going to be completely honest, my first film at SFIFF was underwhelming. It’s a little film (with an even smaller budget) called The Selling. The festival catalog calls it witty and original, and claims it deftly handles a blend of humor and horror. I found none of these qualities in Selling.

Gabriel Diani plays both actor and screenwriter for the film. His character’s name is Richard Scary, “like the children’s author,” he’s fond of reminding everyone he introduces himself to. This statement is met mostly with confusion, and occasionally with enthusiastic recognition. I suppose this will likely be similar to the film’s reception. Scary is a real estate agent with strong moral fiber who decides to buy a large, empty house and flip it with this business partner in order to make some money to pay the bills of his cancer-ridden mother. The agent that Scary bought the house from was forthcoming with the information that an alleged serial killer used to live there. She did not, however, inform him of the crowds of ghosts haunting the place, making a sale almost impossible.

Emily Lou, a first time director, clearly takes a few queues from the greats that do manage to mix the comedy and horror genres with some success, mostly Sam Raimi. But where filmmakers like Raimi succeeded in providing genuine scares right next to genuine humor, Lou could not. Blame can partly be placed with Diani’s sophomoric script. Which sounds even more wooden coming out of the mouths of a mostly non-professional cast with what seems to be limited experience acting in any sense (Barry Bostwick of Rocky Horror Picture Show makes an appearance as an easily frightened exorcist).  The gags are a bit trite as well–the walls bleed when they’re not supposed to, and they won’t when they are!  No one will deny the film meant to lend itself more to comedy than horror which is a shame.  The two shining moments I counted during the graciously short run-time came when the film took itself the most seriously and actually came through with some beautiful (and scary) digital effects.  Everything considered, you definitely won’t be missing out on anything if you skip this movie.


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5 Responses to “SFIFF – The Selling”
  1. Casey Beck says:

    Wow. I couldn’t disagree more.

    I saw an early screening of this and I thought it was great. Funny, smart, quick and fun with some good scares.

    Thought the acting was great across the board too. You should look at the IMDB page, they’re certainly not unprofessional.

    I’m surprised at how drastically I disagree with this review. I’m going to the premier even though I already saw it and recommending it to people too.

  2. Blake says:

    @ Casey – I’m so glad to hear someone else disagrees. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a very hard time gauging the quality of these horror/comedy films (I’ll never understand Sam Raimi!). But as long as people keep encouraging me to find value in these films, I’ll keep looking for it. Thanks for reading!

    I’d love to meet up and discuss the other films you’ve seen at SFIFF, always looking to broaden my understanding of film. Email me if you’re interested. blakesfilmreviews AT gmail DOT com

  3. Jamal Williams says:

    Dear Blake,

    I agree with Casey, I thought it was HILARIOUS.

    I’m studying film now and find the movie really encouraging.

    The only reason I saw your review was b/c I was checking out the stats on IMDB. It’s disappointing that this was the only review on there…I was curious and checked it out, there are other good reviews of this Film out there!

    Can you please rethink slamming independent film makers. You’re entitled to your opinion, obviously…but give these guys a break!


  4. Glenn Sauber says:

    I have to agree with Casey. I’ve read several other reviews of yours that I agree with, but I gotta say that we’re world’s apart on this one.

    Go back and watch Sam Raimi’s first movie- The Evil Dead. It’s considered a ‘cult classic’ now, but its kinda….crappy. Considering this is Lou’s first film, I was impressed. It didn’t succumb to the typical failures of similar films: bad writing, crappy effects, and terrible editing. It was surprisingly tight!

    I was much more entertained by this film than Scream 4 or Paranormal Activity, movies with much larger budgets and A list celebrities. When it was supposed to be scary, it got kinda scary. When it was supposed to be funny, it was surprisingly witty.

    If someones goes to see The Selling expecting to see another pointless horror flick, then I would guess they would be disappointed. But if someone is looking for a fun, FUNNY, family friendly movie in the vein of Shawn of the Dead or Evil Dead 2 then I think they’d have a great time.

    I think its very unfortunate that a review like this could turn potential viewers away from a chance to support Bay Area film makers.

  5. Jessica says:

    Sounds like this one didn’t quite hit the mark. I have a hard time with the comedy/horror genre too. Besides, it doesn’t seem like he was too harsh. He just pointed out exactly why he didn’t like it.
    Jessica´s last blog post ..The Tapestry of Love- by Rosy Thornton

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