November 22, 2009

300 Words About: Living Arrangements

For movie buffs, there is probably not a more surreal experience than seeing yourself on screen in a film. But seeing your own streets and neighborhood landmarks is a bit of a trip, too. For residents of the Uptown neighborhood where I live in South Minneapolis, Living Arrangements is a charming indie horror comedy with a satirical local flavor that only we can appreciate; for everyone else it's still a charming indie horror comedy.

The debut feature from Minneapolis-based director Sam Thompson, Living Arrangements is a high-concept story about a pair of newly engaged vegans, Sasha (Joe Noreen) and Billie (Alexandra Glad), who move into an Uptown apartment only to find a werewolf living in their attic. It sounds like the kind of bizarre idea you'd come up with joking around with friends at 2:00 AM, but the production is treated with just enough seriousness that by the grisly finale you're actually invested in the characters and you've long forgotten how ridiculous the premise is.

Thompson deserves credit for making the production look more expensive than it probably was, at least most of the time. The werewolf suit looks like a bad Halloween costume (and that's being generous) but on balance there are some impressive effects and the cinematography and color balance have a nice polish. The sound mix also shows that somebody had a lot of fun finding growling, meat-eating noises that a werewolf would presumably make. From an acting standpoint Living Arrangements delivers well across the board, including some familiar local faces and a surprising cameo from American Movie's Mark Borchardt (if he's a local, I wasn't aware).

Living Arrangements might not have the budget and brilliance of something like Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell, but for a low-budget, genre-mixing independent film, it delivers laughs with the same wry wink - and should give Uptowners a new appreciation for the weirdos in the apartment next door.

Living Arrangements screened at the 2009 Flyway Film Festival after premiering at the Uptown Theater earlier this year. It's still playing on local screens (next at the Minneapolis Underground Film Festival) but is not yet available on DVD. Visit the official website for updates and additional trailers.



  1. Interesting title here Dan! Is this film tentatively scheduled to open nationwide at some point? I do agree that seeing local landmarks and familiar places can really give one aspecial thrill. Such was the case with BIG starring Tom Hanks, which was partially shot in a suburban home in Cliffside Park, new Jersey, which is the town right next to my hometown of Fairview. It was a big deal for all the high school students.

    But I understand this is a different situation, being an independent film with a relatively tiny budget. Yet sometimes great word-of-mouth can elevate such a film to at least a platform release schedule to gain some good notices for furthe roll out. But this one seems like my kind of film!

  2. You know it's such a small production I'd be surprised if it made it out of the region here, but you never know, and these days movies are accessible online wherever you are. In fact most of these indie films are thriving because of online access and streaming video.

    Great story about Big! But come to think of it you probably see NYC and New Jersey on screen so much it's like you're living in a film set. Must be surreal. Minneapolis only gets a few big profiles every couple of years on screen, but this one literally covers the blocks around where I live. It's funny how much your eyes can recognize in a frame - like a particular telephone pole or street corner or building in the background.


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