CERT: 15 / PLATFORM: VOD / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
If you’re moving into a new place that seems almost too good to be true, in movie world at least, it usually means something pretty bad went down with the previous tenants. In Vivieno Caldinelli’s dark comedy Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss, for LA newcomers Paul and Claire (Sam Huntington and Kate Micucci), one tiny detail the superintendent forgot to mention are the members of the deranged Cult of Storsh who periodically visit the apartment to take part in a ritualistic bathtub suicide. But don’t worry, they’re fairly harmless and there’s always ‘First tub death’ carrot cake from your well-meaning neighbour.
After a few chaotic encounters and a little reading up on Storsh’s teachings, the couple decide to stick around and help the bliss-seekers on their way, and in turn, their luck also begins to change, even with frequent visits from a gullible detective Cartwright (Dan Harmon) who is regularly called to the scene. Taika Waititi plays Reginald E. Storsh, the bearded cult leader in a bathrobe who entices his followers with analogies that liken death to peppermint ice cream and catchy folk songs about instantaneous eternity, which wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of The Mighty Boosh.
It’s a morbid concept but so ridiculous, particularly in the film’s final act, it works. Things border on farcical at times, not least when you learn what prompted the duo’s exodus from Ohio, but those moments of absurdity provide some good laughs while Huntington and Micucci are well-suited as the kooky couple who have lost their way but find unexpected purpose in the afflicted apartment.