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‘For Sale’ review: Fun horror comedy can’t quite close the deal

Charming, if flawed.

For Sale is an interesting little comedy horror. Mason McGinness (Andrew Roth, The Wire) is a smarmy salesman who is not above cutting some corners to close the deal. When he pushes things too far, he finds himself out of a job and a home. He has a chance to right his life if he can sell a house with a sordid past and lots of unwanted guests.

The debate between practical effects and CGI is an ongoing one that will only end when there are no longer audiences old enough to have nostalgia for old school effects. Even though special effects are a relatively big part of For Sale, it does not offer much to that particular argument. Instead, it is an example of the effectiveness of simplicity.

For Sale is a haunted house movie, so there has to be ghosts, mysterious happenings, and strange sightings. While nothing is Savini-esque and the budget does not allow for massive computer generated spectacle, the film is great at using small moments to create maximum terror. There are some excellent jump scares and the use of shadows add to the biggest moments. When the specters who inhabit the house make their appearances, they have a cheesy look that works with the story being told.

Charm may be the strongest thing about the film. Quirky music and characters are the biggest takeaway from For Sale. Roth is particularly good as the shady agent who will do anything to get his sale. He is in just about every scene and his personality ensures that anyone watching will not be bored of him. The plot is more about the development of his character than the actual scares.

For some, this may end up being an issue. For Sale skirts around the horror elements for the vast majority of the time. It is not until about an hour in that the story truly kicks in. Everything before is set up. This would be fine – and it is very well paced – except a tone is never established. It is not tense enough for horror fans, but also does not provide constant laughs. And when the terror finally does take center stage, things come to a screeching halt.

The ending is also a little erratic. At first, it appears as if viewers will be getting a more family friendly ending complete with Mason learning a life lesson. This is before a dark turn that leads to a confusing finale that is sorta cute and sorta funny but incomplete more than anything else.

For Sale opens on digital platforms May 7

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