Rather than being grim, A Grim Becoming embraces elements of farce and screwball comedy, in a decidedly more zany approach to horror. Tonally, it is more in tune with early Sam Raimi (and Evil Dead 2) and Peter Jackson’s early work like Dead Alive, than say, Final Destination, in its approach to Death. Directed and co-written by Adam Steigert, the film charts the journey of beleaguered executive Raphael (Brandyn T. Williams) and his accidental becoming of a Reaper and the multitude of colorful characters he encounters and impacts along the way.
Michael Sciabarrasi is a great discovery, turning in a standout performance as the creepy, funny, and charismatic Magoo, who haunts and assists Raphael with navigating the waters of his newfound abilities as a Reaper. Both in performance and the design of the character, this is the kind of figure franchises are built around.
In indie horror, where modest budgets reign, the ability to attract marquee names often boils down to a few key areas: juicy roles that allow an actor to create a strong impression in just a day or few days of shooting, getting to explore comedic territory not as often visited, and the opportunity to play against type. Each are present here, with a memorable supporting cast of familiar faces, many getting to display strong comedic chops. Melantha Blackthorne (who has very expressive eyes) amuses nicely with a quirky performance as wife to Bill Oberst. Oberst is good as always, here as a kinky, repressed husband and father of the aptly named Looney family. Great kooky character work from both. Britt Griffith does a nice job with his role as a douchey business rival to Raphael, once again far removed from Ghost Hunters. Lynn Lowry turns in a fun and playfully sexy performance as Mother, half of a role-playing couple on vacation. Devanny Pinn delivers solid, grounded work as a grieving, suicidal girlfriend. Jessica Cameron plays the club hopping Life as a jaded, somewhat amused socialite.
Melyssa Jade is charming as cute Carrie, possible romantic interest and assistant to Raphael. And in the tricky role of bratty, sarcastic teen October, Aryn Fitzgerald is quite good, as is Tara Swicicki as her mother. Local talent add flair in smaller roles and bit parts.
A fun flick with a strong ensemble, A Grim Becoming is more interested in tickling your funny bone than being bone-chilling. It’s a welcome treat.
–Cory Graham 2014