“The Selling” is a horror comedy with some local ties. Director Emily Lou attended San Francisco State University, as did writer and star Gabriel Diani, and costar Etta Devine. Diani and Devine are also a comedy team with some YouTube hits under their belts. (I like the one about replacing the n-word in “Huckleberry Finn” with the word “robot.”)
While these locals now call Los Angeles home, they haven’t gone Hollywood in terms of budget, as “The Selling” is definitely a low-budget affair. Diani plays Richard Scarry (yes, like the children’s book author), a struggling real estate agent in Overlook, California (of course) who decides to buy a sketchy house (on Elm Street, natch) with his business partner in hopes of doing a quick flip and profitable sell. Unfortunately, it turns out the house is haunted, and selling becomes a bit of a challenge. After all, in this market people are already “too scared to buy.”
While the film is a horror comedy, it is much better at generating laughs than it is scares, especially if you’re a fan of slapstick. But ghostly apparitions, bleeding walls, and exploding toilet effects are all handled well, considering the budget. The majority of the cast are not well known, aside from Barry Bostwick, who has a small part as a priest brought in to “clean” the house. (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fans will also recognize the Mayor in a brief cameo.)
Ultimately, I think “The Selling” might have worked better as a short film, as towards its end, it begins to lose some steam, and jokes and scares begin to repeat themselves. Still, it’s not a bad entry into the comedic horror genre, and I look forward to seeing more from these SFSU grads.
The Selling plays the San Francisco International Film Festival tonight at 11:30 P.M., and Wednesday, May 4th at 4:15 P.M.