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Growing Out: A Tedious Experiment

September 18, 2009

Tom (Michael Hampton), an aspiring singer/songwriter, has just been fired from open mic night.  Walking aimlessly down the street, he comes upon a house.

Aunt Elora’s house looks a lot like Tom’s grandmother’s house, except for the one armed man singing and strumming the guitar on the front stoop, the cobwebs and dust filled rooms, and the dead bird on the kitchen floor.  But none of this, not even the mysterious old woman imprisoned in the upstairs bedroom in demand of pastrami on rye cut straight, “not diagonal,” each day, can dissuade him from accepting free room and board, (“aint nothin’s free,” Vernon says) in exchange for a little cleaning and room service.

After securing new residence, (was he homeless?), he sees a vision of beauty at the park.  As two adolescent girls in summer dresses frolic by, leaving a trail of bubbles in their wake, Veronica sits perched in a tree singing and playing guitar.  Floating bubbles (are they real?), beautiful melody, and awe inspiring nature add a sense of fantasy to the moment; but when Veronica begins to screw her finger back on, Tom is shaken back to reality.

Following her home, she ends up in Aunt Elora’s backyard where Philip, complete with psychotic tendencies and an unsightly bump on his neck (“What the hell is that?” Tom exclaims), resides in his “tin can” surrounded by old wooden furniture.  Disappointed, he heads to the basement.  Dropping his flashlight, the light throws the shadow of a human hand upon the wall behind him (ominously engulfing him). Perplexed (and strangely unaffected), Tom drops a tin can over the hand.

This is Graham Ratliff’s Growing Out (a story told in the parentheses), and soon it is the hand that begins growing out.  The next visit to the basement reveals the hand now 3 feet in the air above a sprouting arm.  Tom moves in closer; and in self defense, the arm punches Tom in the nuts and then the face.

For the first hour, nothing much really happens.  Tom is perpetually scared and seems to never get the uncomfortable jokes aimed at him. Philip tries to give Tom brotherly advice, “If you crack,” he tells him, “you just have to kill your demons like I did.” But Tom rejects all of Philip’s advice, and instead moves in to steal his girlfriend.

Devoid of action, violence, and real horror, Growing Out is a tedious experiment in low budget filmmaking. And although the humor is quirky, the acting just below average and the drama devoid of real emotion; something about Growing Out is addictive.  And by the end, should you make it that far, there is just enough to allow you to piece together what just may be a really cool twist.  If you have patience (it’s slow), and are looking for a strange (it’s really not horrific), undiscovered (mostly disliked) gem, Growing Out might just be it (it has cult status written all over it).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2009 10:59 am

    Very excellent!


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