Written by Jeremy Gardner and co-directed by Gardner and Christian Stella, Something Else is more of a rumination on modern relationships than it is a full-blooded genre film, which is what I enjoyed so much about it, making its title wholly indicative of just what kind of experience awaits fans as Gardner’s story unfolds.
Something Else follows Hank (Gardner) and Abby (Brea Grant), a couple who move into Hank’s rural family home that's tucked away from the world. As they begin to build their lives together, it’s apparent that Abby is having some reservations about settling into her new life and giving up certain parts of her past, and she decides one day to take off, only leaving a note behind for Hank to find, and not offering up any sort of real explanation for why she’s decided to disappear. As Hank struggles to make sense of why Abby would do such a thing, he’s plagued by nightly visits from an unseen monster that attacks randomly, leaving Hank feeling like he’s losing his grip on reality in more ways than one. And since no one in his life believes that he’s actually contending with a monster at all, and that it’s just his imagination coupled with the stress of Abby going MIA, all this doubt just continues to drive the desperate Hank mad the worse things get for him.
As mentioned earlier, Something Else definitely falls comfortably under the banner of genre fare because of its monster-driven narrative, but the film is ultimately an intimately crafted examination of the difficulties of modern relationships, and both Gardner and Stella have created something that really hit me in a way I was not expecting whatsoever, especially as someone who in the past had to reconcile my need to be in a relationship and my own feelings of wanting more from my life beyond my marriage at the time.
Something Else utilizes a series of flashbacks as the couple settles into their new life, intercut with Hank contending with just trying to exist after Abby disappears in the present. We often go back and forth between the pain that Hank is feeling now versus the true elation of him finding the love of his life in Abby, and I found myself quickly invested in their relationship and everything that follows because of that intersection of joy and pain (which is relatable to anyone who has ever had to contend with the total destruction of a relationship).
So much of what makes Something Else work as well as it does are the performances from both Gardner and Grant, who have always done great work onscreen, but their performances here are just wonderful. There’s a scene where Hank and Abby are having a heart-to-heart about what it is that we all collectively give up to be in a relationship (even if we are gaining something as well), and it felt like one of the most raw and honest discussions of what it means to commit yourself to someone else that I’ve ever seen. Also, there’s a moment in Something Else when Gardner performs karaoke, and I’ll be honest, it gave me all the feels (it has everything to do with his song choice, but I won’t reveal that here, because it’s a rather charming surprise).
Gardner and Grant share a great sense of chemistry between them, and I enjoyed getting to see them really dig into these characters and the partnership that they share in a way that feels completely authentic. Some folks might be looking for a bit more monster-fueled fun than we get in Something Else, but to me, just seeing Gardner and Grant in action was an even bigger draw, and they do not disappoint with their efforts here.
Movie Score: 4/5
In case you missed it, check here to catch up on our previous Tribeca Film Festival coverage!