In movies — and perhaps in real life — hallucinations can be fun. Dave Stimple (Adam Edwards) is having many of them, but he’s not enjoying himself. And it’s no wonder — he sees monsters, blood and gore, and they occasionally cause him to sleepwalk and land in … a swimming pool.
That’s the central concept behind the surrealist comedy Nothing Really Happens, which might remind you a bit of the paranoid nightmares that are trademarks of the two Davids: Lynch and Cronenberg. Director and writer Justin Petty has picked an ambitious path to follow in this two-part suburban sci-fi, horror opus. The challenge of making a series of stream-of-consciousness events into a specific-enough whole that carries its own dramatic and comedic weight is not for the faint of heart. It’s a noble effort that partly succeeds, but largely in the second half of the film. Prior to that, you might find your attention wandering when logic and probability go out the window. We end up wondering about a lot of things, especially why David puts up with such intolerable, dumb people who seem to plague his life. The explanation here is that he’s in an emotional morass and doesn’t have the will to pull himself out, or as one observer puts it, he’s too much of a pussy.
“The film opens like gangbusters, with vintage TV commercials for the mattress shop starring Dave’s father.”
The film opens like gangbusters, with vintage TV commercials for the mattress shop starring Dave’s father. The commercials are distorted, staticy and full of jump-cut glitches, as old, degrading VHS tapes might become. But the jump cuts and static seem to carry over into David’s real-life experiences, and he begins to feel a little loopy because of it.
Otherwise, conversations, and there are a lot of them in Part One, ramble a bit incoherently, but are meant as a set up for Part Two. It’s then that the film begins to pick up steam, and the strange happenings in the first part are more or less explained.