The â€œhorror comedyâ€ genre has had its share of winners (Shaun of the Dead) and losers (every Scary Movie sequel). The Selling, a new dark comedy from the mind of standup comic and actor Gabriel Diani and directed by Emily Lou, fits somewhere in between. The comedic pace of the film, while compelling, becomes a bit uneven as the climax approaches. But the chemistry of the main players, and the delightfully-spooky visions of the ghosts and implied horrors, keeps it on track.
Starring Diani (who also wrote the screenplay) as sad-sack realtor Richard Scarry, The Selling teaches us all how difficult it is to flip a house with a shady, more specifically paranormal, history. Scarry and realtor buddy Dave Ross (Jonathan Klein) are duped into purchasing the possessed house, former home of a deranged serial killer, by their charming, and devious, co-worker Mary Best. Not realizing the truth until the spirits begin forcibly crashing their open house efforts, Richard and Dave go to very unusual lengths to re-sell this house of horrors. But problems arise when they achieve their goal, and the demon refuses to leave Richard alone. His personal life, family, jobâ€¦..all become targets as this pesky evilness attempts to turn him into the next great murderer and continue the work started many years ago.
About a half hour into the movie, itâ€™s easy to forget that this could be classified as â€œhorrorâ€ at all. Diani and Klein play a great comedy team, each more gullible and moronic than the other. Their fumbling attempts to clean and sell the unsellable home leads to many humorous gags, including a visit from their 8th-grade Sunday School teacher, Father Jimmy (Barry Bostwick, in a hilarious cameo). That and all other endeavors prove futile as the duo continue their downward spiral into real estate purgatory. Mary Best (Janet Varney) is an able adversary, eager to take advantage of the pair and their impossible situation. Varney adds a dash of bitchiness and cunning to the cast, which helps at times when the ghosts donâ€™t seem quite soâ€¦..well, scary. While this may sound like a problem for any horror film, the humor and progressing storyline keep the wheels churning. Then comes the second half.
Halfway through, the gags that were working so well, specifically the interaction between Richard and Dave, slow down and seemingly disappear altogether. The demonic possession takes effect, which provides plenty of humorous situations but also forces the film to drag a bit. This is what contributes to the uneven feel of The Selling as a whole. Whereas the chemistry between Diani and Klein carried the first half, the anticipation of a climax and the reemergence of Scarryâ€™s sick mother as a guiding light seem a little forced. Am I reading a bit into it? Perhaps. But with the gore essentially non-existent, the hilarity had to be turned up to 11 as a compliment. For the most part, this doesnâ€™t happen as frequently towards the end. Is this a fatal flaw? Absolutely not, as this movie is incredibly enjoyable overall.
You will find yourself laughing more than cringing, but as far as horror comedies go The Selling is an undeniable success. While more attention couldâ€™ve been given to the humorous interaction between the characters in the second half, the inevitable demonic possession still carries the necessary impact to finish the story. Itâ€™s not in the same class as Shaun of the Dead, but itâ€™s enjoyable enough to potentially carve its own niche in this genre.