Our latest Screamdance report from Raindance 2019 at Vue Piccadilly looks at debut feature director Jarett Bellucci’s SANDPAPER, a home improvement thriller based on a remarkable true story. Here’s our writeup.
By RADIANT CIRCUS
d. Jarett Bellucci, 2018 (USA)
“Sometimes even the best of us can be fooled.”
SANDPAPER is embellished from a true life story, shot in the same house where the events actually happened. It’s about Kate (Lori Katz), a woman going through an angry divorce who commissions a new outdoor deck for her home from a master craftsman, Howard (David Raizor). What starts as sensible home improvement to boost a settlement sale, rapidly spirals out of control. As craftsman turns cuckoo, Howard ingratiates himself into Kate’s daily routines before eventually moving into her home.
Making things worse, it emerges that Howard has a loosening hold on reality, boasting about being caught up in a Nigerian-based email scam he seems unable or unwilling to spot. He dreams of wealth, family and a sharp electric blue velvet suit… But he’s not the only one to have been duped. Kate’s resolve is undermined by some terrible decisions, not helped by local law enforcement that confirms Howard’s resident status after a mere 30 days. As things get worse, she’s increasingly uncertain about how to fight back. Until she picks up the power tools…
“Get out of my home you fucking psycho!”
SANDPAPER is crisply edited and beautifully shot – the woodland setting a perfect location for this twisted tale – but we would have loved to see it do more with the inherent absurdity of its story. Instead of balancing the horror of Howard’s advance with a degree of self awareness, there’s potential here for a more radically transgressive point of departure. Being stuck in this halfway home, the suitably heightened lead performances can feel stilted, not quite becoming fully-throttled versions of these flawed folk.
Still, it was really great fun seeing the film in the company of the real life Kate, as if we were somehow sharing in her gonzo home movies. Director Jarett Bellucci – another total enthusiast for the project – revealed some more of the true life details that inspired the film: “the sad thing is, it’s a really beautiful looking deck”. Somewhere then, the cuckoo still seeks a nest…
And that’s the meat of it…
RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
The 27th Raindance Film Festival screened at Vue West End & Vue Piccadilly (18 to 29 SEP 2019).
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