Stinking Heaven

The latest feel-strange indie from Nathan Silver (Uncertain Terms) is the visual and emotional equivalent of curdled milk: yellow-tinted, clumpy, and queasy. Though advertised as a black comedy, this Betacam-fuzzy and largely improvised ensemble piece is more unpleasant than amusing, despite the bitter laughs promised by the setting—a crumbling sober-living commune in Passaic, New Jersey, circa 1990. The house is owned and the group led by a young, laconic married couple (Keith Poulson, Deragh Campbell) whose motives are as inscrutable as their expressions; the stories of their dysfunctional houseguests, including a junkie father-daughter duo and a pretty newcomer with a taste for violence, are similarly hazy and loose-ended. There’s a horror film in here somewhere, with the creepy synth score and the recurrent close-ups of twisting, blemished faces, but Silver wisely demurs: the stench of spiritual decay is disturbing enough.