The Selling is a horror/comedy that focuses on a too-honest real estate agent promptly named Richard Scarry (“like the children’s book author”), who is tasked with selling a haunted house. Watching this film reminded me of the older films like The Ghost and Mr. Chicken or The Burbs, delightfully blending some good scares with equally good laughs. The creative story allows the filmmakers to poke fun at both horror films and the real estate business. A fantastic cast, a good sense of humor, and fun direction make this one of the better horror/comedy in the past decade along with Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell.
Richard Scarry (Gabriel Diani) flips and sells houses with his friend Dave (Jonathan Klein) while being closely watched by their evil, but sexy, co-worker Mary Best (Janet Varney). When Best dumps the haunted house on their lap without warning them of the ghostly inhabitants, it doesn’t take the pair long to realize that there is something is supernaturally wrong. The ghosts do everything they can to keep Richard and Dave out as they try to fix up the place — they rearrange furniture, make the walls bleed, and use a variety of scare tactics to keep potential buyers out. Scarry soon enlists the help of a “ghost blogger” Ginger Sparks (Etta Devine) in order to find out why the house is haunted. This is where the film shows its strengths in horror and comedy.
Diani, who also wrote and produced, is really what sells The Selling with his comedic talent and awkward mannerisms. The character of Richard Scarry is truly too nice and honest to be a saleseman as his friends and mother (Nancy Lenehan) constantly remind him. The open house Scarry holds features a hilarious montage showcasing both Scarry’s awkwardness and “good ol’ boy” personality clashing with the inhabitants of the haunted house.
Diani’s utter commitment to the goofy antics could have easily gone wrong in another actor’s hands. The character soon becomes less scared of the ghosts and more simploy annoyed with them, making the film a lot more fun and enjoyable. The film had a very Money Pit meets The Amityville Horror vibe going for it, which director Emily Lou pulled off with expert execution. There are a few scenes that are legitimately frightening, even though the film is a comedy at heart.
One highlight of the film is when Scarry enlists the help of his old priest, played by Barry Bostwick. Bostwick gives a hilariously dry-delivery performance as a priest who believes Scarry has become an athiest. The film is very often hilarious as long as you are in a fun and goofy mood. Nothing is too serious or too threatening in this film because the cast and crew smartly decided to keep the tone light and fun to keep the film moving along.
Overall, I had a very good time with this movie. I was looking for a fun and original horror flick that can honestly hit my funny bone. At once it was frightening and supernatural, then smart and goofy. I highly recommend this film to anyone looking to revisit the films that could successfully blend the fun to be had with supernatural horror films in the vein of Ghostbusters. The fully-committed cast, the smart script, the tight direction by Lou, and the hilarious gags make this a film to look for. It is currently showing at a number of film festivals, and you can check out more information over at www.thesellingthemovie.com. Also watch for my interview with star/writer Gabriel Diani.
Great humor, a creative story and a well balanced mix of comedy and horror make this one an interesting and often enjoyable film.