Keeping Company, the directorial debut of filmmaker Josh Wallace, is jet black horror comedy at its most profound. The setup is simple: two insurance salesmen get kidnapped and chained up in the basement of a creepy grandmother/grandson duo. The film takes awhile to get going, but once it’s there, the script from Wallace and Devin Das checks every zany genre box. Clever dialogue with biting social commentary hammers in the themes, while never forgetting to have a blast in the process.
You’d have to be blind not to notice the obvious Psycho references, specifically in the relationship of Grandma (Suzanne Savoy) and Lucas (Jacob Grodnik). An ominous commentary from Lucas early on already hints at Grandma’s sinister secrets: “Grandma has an order to maintain. The sooner you accept that, the more comfortable you’ll be.” I was getting heavy Norman/Norma Bates vibes from the way they interacted with each other—it’s just as uncomfortably strange to the audience as it is to the characters.
While similar “kidnapped and trapped” scenarios have been done in a plethora of different ways, I’ve never seen an approach to the concept quite like what Josh Wallace and Devin Das brought to the table. Frenetic editing adds a sense of whimsy, and the tone stays fun, campy, and ridiculous throughout. With a sprinkle of Sweeney Todd and a dash of light-hearted cannibalism, you really can’t go wrong.
Keeping Company screened at the virtual Panic Fest, April 8th – 18th.