Spawned by San Francisco fringe theater and sketch-comedy veterans, “The Selling” is a comedians’ movie — a bit of an in-joke full of droll riffing, consistently wry and diverting, but not that great on structure or building toward big laughs. Chuckles instead will greet this likable riff on haunted-house movies, in which two hapless real-estate agents struggle to sell the property in question. Theatrical prospects are meek, but further fest and eventual home-format exposure is assured.
Nice-guy real estate agent Richard (Gabriel Diani) and best pal Dave (Jonathan Klein) are seduced into buying a suspiciously cheap, expansive home by Richard’s untrustworthy co-worker Mary (Janet Varney), their goal being to renovate it for profit. Problem is, said manse was once home to the “Sleep Stalker” killer, a long-ago suicide who purportedly killed 12 people while somnambulant. Protags experience plenty of poltergeisty activity while they attempt renovations. But being stuck with a lemon, with Richard needing cash to pay for his mother’s cancer treatments, they have to try to sell nonetheless.
Bleeding walls and other supernatural mischief scare off most potential buyers. When a sale is finally pulled off, however, the devious “ancient unnamed evil” responsible for all havoc stops haunting the house and finds a more flesh-and-blood host.
Written by lead thesp Diani and directed by debuting feature helmer Emily Lou, pic is humorous but too seldom hilarious — the biggest laugh occurs in a scene tagged onto the closing credits. Perfs generally riff amusingly, lacking the material to knock it out of the park. Barry Bostwick hits a more broadly farcical note in an extended cameo as a priest called in for an ineffectual exorcism.
Low-budget effort is resourcefully handled in all tech and design departments, with fun animated opening credits.