The dormlike communality of adults under one roof — still routine in counterculture-shaped Oakland — may strike many viewers of “Scared New World” as exotic. The no-budget, vid-shot feature will quietly draw them in, nonetheless. Ensemble drama is solidly in the tradition of pioneer indie pics like Cassavetes’ “Shadows,” as just-basic tech package trains its non-indulgent, actor-centric focus on tangled, ambiguous urban-hipster relationships. Small screen will suit pic best, but fests looking to showcase new Amerindie talent should take note.
Primary residents in a typical Oakland household are Vargas (scenarist yahn soon) and Alma (Lena Zee), from whose frigid noncommunication one can assume a broken romantic link exists. He’s a frustrated writer, while she’s a casual marijuana dealer sorely in need of an emotional/creative outlet beyond her slacker b.f. (Josh Millican). Vargas and Alma share ground as caretakers of her child Ricky (Zachary Schramm). Latter gets an additional mother figure in Alma’s cancer-sickened pot client Patricia (Harriet Schiffer-Scott), while everybody gets a new “child” in bisexually hapless French exchange student and housemate Penny (Fanny Ara-Herms). Naturalistic perfs and situations engross until impact-muffling epilogue.