THE DEEPER YOU DIG (2019)
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On his way home from a bar during a snowstorm, Kurt (John Adams) is distracted by a herd of deer crossing the road and accidentally runs over his neighbor’s teen daughter Echo (Zelda Adams), who is sleigh-riding at night. He brings her body back to the house he is renovating, where he suddenly finds she isn’t dead. He panics and kills her, then hides her body. Her mother Ivy (Toby Poser), who is a medium, starts a search for her daughter, using her knowledge of the supernatural to aid her. As Ivy starts to suspect Kurt, the guilt ridden man becomes haunted by Echo’s spirit, as her mother draws ever closer to finding out the truth.
Intriguing supernatural thriller is written by stars John Adams and his wife Toby Poser and co-directed by the duo, along with their daughter, co-star Zelda Adams. It is very grounded despite a lot of supernatural elements and most of the FX appear to be done in camera. The three filmmakers concoct an interesting tale of guilt, the supernatural and revenge from beyond the grave. It’s subtle, for the most part, spooky at times and atmospheric. Echo, at first, simply haunts and torments Kurt and deservedly so. As her mother gets signs pointing her toward what happened and who’s responsible, Echo starts to communicate through him, giving her mother clues as she gets closer to the man she suspects. It’s actually very effective most of the time, with the exception of a few scenes that bordered on getting a little silly, unfortunately, such as the last scene. It’s supposed to illustrate Ivy getting what she wanted and yet paying a price for using darker forces to find the truth. Sadly, it’s just not as effective as it needs to be. It doesn’t stick with you for the right reasons. There are some nice hallucination and dream sequences that evoked some of the work Don Coscarelli achieved, with next to nothing, on the original Phantasm. Offbeat and inventive. There is some bloody violence and some disturbing imagery and it maintains an unsettling mood most of the time.
The writing and directing trio also do well in their on-screen roles. John Adams is good as Kurt. He panics and does something terrible and then follows it up with something even worse. Bad decisions snowballing and now he is haunted by the spirit of a young girl he’s murdered, as well as, by his own guilt. Toby Poser gives an understated performance as Ivy. As a mother she is willing to sacrifice anything and everything to find her daughter and delves into darker arts to do so. She also is strong in the face of admitting her daughter is gone, but relentless in trying to prove what she already knows, her neighbor had something to do with it. Rounding out is Zelda Adams as Echo. Most of her role is of a taunting spirit, and as that she is effective, but in her brief time as a living person, she successfully conveys a typical rebellious teen. Good work from a hard working trio.
This film is a family affair in the complete sense of the word and an intriguing one at that. It’s inventive and clever in portraying it’s supernatural subject on a small budget and effective more times than not. We feel Kurt’s guilt and Ivy’s anguish and Echo’s almost playful taunting of the man who killed her can be chilling. Not all of it’s supernaturally tinged sequences worked and the climactic moments weren’t as disturbing as they were meant to be. Here, the journey is almost more interesting than the resolution. Ultimately, it’s an original telling of a familiar story and one that hints at interesting things to come from this family of filmmakers. Not for everyone, but if you like your flicks a little offbeat, than it’s certainly worth a watch.
Rated 3 (out of 4) deer antlers.