11th Oct2020

Grimmfest 2020: ‘It Cuts Deep’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Charles Gould, Quinn Jackson, John Anderson, Alison Fraser | Written and Directed by Nicholas Payne Santos

It’s Christmas-time. A young couple, Ashley and Sam, are on a vacation and are talking about their future and the things they want to do together. Ashley wants to have kids, start a family, get married, do the things that many people want to do in life. Sam, however, gets that cold-feet thing going on, jerks away and freaks out a bit. Things get complicated when Nolan, a handsome fellow who happens to be a friend of Sam’s from his childhood, enters the picture. He is much more the husband-type, and so this seasonal trip turns into something of a nightmare. Oh dear.

It Cuts Deep is written and directed by Nicholas Santos (Holiday Fear, Break) and manages to blend genres in a unique manner, taking psychological horror and tossing it in bed with comedy, drama and hints of a slasher, to create something that feels somewhat familiar but still new. It’s a film that really does keep you guessing, whether it’s with the routes the story takes, or the movement in which the tone wriggles around at times, bringing in an eerie contemplation of what may happen next. I dug that.

The cast, specifically those that play the three main characters, are all excellent here. Quinn Jackson (The Blacklist), in the role of Ashley, was my favourite character in the film, she is likeable and relatable, understandable in her frustrations and her performance was the best thing about the whole movie, in my view. Charles Gould (Comedy Central Presents, Flex), as Sam, also manages to also bring in a relatable edge, his reluctance and avoidance of change causing issues yet also being something that many would likely understand. John Anderson (30 Rock), as Nolan, really stood out as the way-too-nice bloke, the guy every other guy wants to slap in the neck. A simmering likeability that feels irritatingly perfect makes him a character to easily dislike but simultaneously question your own issues with the character type. His performance was nuanced and pretty damn fun.

Those extreme fears of marriage and children, of moving out of your twenties where life was more simple and all about sex, nights on the town and looking out for number one, and into a life where a baby, a church aisle and a golden ring are staring you in the eye. Those are dealt with here in It Cuts Deep. A feature film debut from Santos, who previously worked on many short films, this is a success. He hits it out of the park, and does so in a memorable way. I thought this was a terrific mix of funny and dark, with top class acting and some delightful script work. The music, also, from Owen Evans, does wonders for the tonal changes, and Kyle Kelley’s (Uncle Peckerhead) cinematography is on-point. The film looks lovely. It’s a film that is very easy to recommend, and one I think manages to do a lot in its fairly short 75 minutes. A very enjoyable, curious and contemporary dark comedy that injects elements of horror and psycho-thriller to keep things tantalising. A definite success for Santos, I’m interested to see what he does next.

**** 4/5

It Cuts Deep screened on Saturday October 10th, as part of this years virtual Grimmfest event.

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