Defying cinematic classification is often a good thing. Think of much of David Lynch's catalog blurring, horror, thriller, drama, and noir lines or Logan blurring the lines of the western and the superhero movie, or Usher Morgan blurring the lines of noir and the western (which are from the same cinematic family tree, believe it or not) in his incredible low-budget, high-concept picture Pickings – read my interview with Morgan from March here), sometimes it is unequivocally bad (*cough* Adam Sandler The Ridiculous 6, anyone? That movie took "genre-bending" to a whole new level of total shit from the sphincter of Hollywood), and sometimes it's somewhere in the middle.

Jonathan Watson's Arizona is one such film that very much so sat in the middle-ground. While it wasn't a bad film, it wasn't all that good either. Yet, one should remember something when reading other reviews of this film, while Watson has ALOT of experience as a second-unit director (including on The Green Mile and La La Land), Arizona was indeed his first feature in the big chair of lead director.

Likewise with Arizona's writer Luke Del Tredici – he has ALOT of experience as a comedy TV writer (including some TV movies and work on shows like 30 Rock) and has two Emmy nominations under his belt. Arizona is nevertheless his first feature too, again, sitting in the big chair of the only writer credited on the film.

I always find it instructive and only fair to give a little bit of allowance for error when it comes to an artist – any artist's – first piece like this. Art as a whole is a learning experience – as artists, we learn, we refine, we make ourselves and our work better through trial, error, and mistakes. Indeed, many directors and writers have told me here how much of it is a learning experience when doing a first film as lead director or writer.

That is, I always make that allowance as long as there's some proof the artist in question is really trying – really striving for something better. I think there's plenty of proof throughout Arizona that Del Tredici and Watson were trying – there's some really intense and well-written scenes – but overall, it seems as if they just couldn't quite find that direction and groove yet. Which is fine – after all, Arizona is – for all intents and purposes – their first feature film.

So, where did the direction of the film end up going? This gets back to the problem of genre classification. Arizona is not really an action movie, not really a horror flick, and it's not really a comedy.

It strives to be all three, but really the best way to describe it is as "horrifically absurd comedic violence" (by "absurd" I mean in a existential way – think Kafka, Sartre, or CamusTHAT definition of “absurd”), mostly perpetrated by Danny McBride's character, the hapless Sonny.

The Existentialist idea of "absurdity" is essentially a compare and contrast between two things; namely, the human drive to find meaning and value in something (say, losing one's house during the last Housing Crisis) and our human inability to find that very meaning. This is very much reflected in the character of Sonny who loses his house when the Housing Crisis reaches the suburbs of Arizona – a state hit particularly hard by it. Do we have a sympathetic figure in Sonny though? Just you wait.

What does Sonny do? Instead of pondering or thinking about what's truly his best next move, or finding a pill or alcohol bottle to hide in, he accidentally kills the Realtor (Seth Rogen) who sold him the house he's under water on. From this stunt, he kidnaps Cassie (Rosemarie DeWitt) Seth Rogen's character's worker, and further reveals himself to really be devoid of pitiable qualities entirely. The guy is basically a stone cold, violent sadist with a penchant for stupid inventions and even stupider jokes – that second part obviously intended to give the character a Joe Sixpack characteristic. Yet it doesn't really add much to a character who is blowing people away faster than Clint Eastwood in a spaghetti western gun fight.

Very often the film vacillates too much and too fast between the stone cold violence and the guy (Sonny) who – we would think – would be more morally ambiguous than this, at least not being so nonchalant about a lot of the killing.

Yes, absurdity and absurdism are very much about balancing two opposites, but unfortunately Arizona and McBride just don't hit the right buttons for that here. McBride seemed uncharacteristically restrained in his role – indeed, a very weird thing, considering all the violence Sonny as a character is causing. The audience expects here more of a fallen everyman, who won't utterly lose his morals and mind as he begins his odyssey downward into the abyss of crime, moral degradation, and death, or may be essentially a horrible person but has some admirable qualities – think of basically any effective anti-hero – we adore the character archetype because he is a bad boy who is actually fundamentally good. What we instead get here is a psycho killer who just appears frustrated and bored as he fires off his shots from his comically over-sized .44 magnum.

While, yes, reality many not have many of the fallen everyman (although I would argue they are much more prevalent than people think) – reality, the world, also doesn't have psychopaths who act so... cartoonish, caricaturish, and lack the intensity that is characteristic of a lot of what we know about violent psychopaths.

The bottom-line here: pick one. BE the psychopath. Or be the fallen everyman. Think of William H. Macy's character in Fargo as an example there – Arizona is, after all, essentially a riff off of Coen Bros. crime capers like Fargo. Perhaps Del Tredici, Watson, and McBride really didn't hit that middle ground effectively here because in reality there really isn't a middle-ground to hit.

That all being said, Arizona is not a horrible movie (it just isn't great either) – it has fine direction, some of the writing is pretty well-executed, and the premise itself (using the Housing Crisis in Arizona as the backdrop) shows great originality. The horror vibe that is struck in certain scenes would've worked better with a more committed and less visibly bored Danny McBride who was actually owning his role as either complete psychopath or fallen everyman Sonny. In it's current form however (minus that x factor) it just makes the film appear more directionless.

I will still keep my eyes and ears open for more from Del Tredici and Watson however, if for no other reason than their past pedigrees, and – again – the fact that this is their first feature basically, as a writer and director respectively. I know these two will end up doing much better.

Catch Arizona On Demand and Digital HD now.