15th Jul2019

Fantasia 2019: ‘The Deeper You Dig’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: John Adams, Toby Poser, Zelda Adams, Izzy Figueredo | Written and Directed by John Adams, Toby Poser

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Husband and wife team, John Adams and Toby Poser co-write and co-direct once again (they’ve worked together a number of times on a few films, including Halfway to Zen in 2016) this horror title that, with the synopsis I read before watching, sounded really intriguing to me. The idea of a roadside accident that causes the line between the living and the dead to collapse in the existence of a stranger and a mother and daughter, was curious to me.

The Deeper you Dig stars Adams and Poser in the roles of Kurt and Ivy respectively, and their daughter, Zelda Adams as Ivy’s daughter in the film, Echo. It’s a family project in every sense of the term, both in front of the camera and behind it. The page and pen, the camera, the cutting room and the directors chair, not to mention in the scenes as the performers themselves. It’s a unique set-up, and their real-life chemistry as a family follows through to their on-screen roles. Is there anything these guys can’t do?

Ivy and Echo are mother and daughter and have a really cool sort of relationship, a fact that makes what happens as the film progresses all the more harrowing. We witness Echo suffer a catastrophic event when she is hit by a truck in the snow and killed. Kurt is responsible, a stranger from out of town. He’d been drinking and driving, so makes the decision to cover up his tracks, burying the body of Echo in his backyard and seemingly getting away with manslaughter. Ivy spends the following days searching like mad for her daughter but is unable to find her, and unsure of what happened to her. Ivy, unable to work out what happened to Echo, has one trick left up her sleeve, as she turns to her psychic powers in order to look for the answers she seeks, answers that appear to be the worst she could ever imagine. Is her deceased daughter trying to communicate with her while also haunting the man that killer her?

That’s the basic story in a nutshell, it isn’t the thickest or deepest of plots and we don’t particularly get to learn a massive amount about the three characters that we follow, but at the same time I’m not really sure we need to. The Adams Family (John, Toby and Zelda) all do a great job in their specific roles, and deliver performances that exceeded my expectations going into this. The Deeper you Dig didn’t feel like many of the homemade horror films I’ve seen in the past, and didn’t rely on the usual tactics or fail to deliver due to constraints that come with such a homegrown project. It’s a very original film and not like anything I’ve seen, certainly not in the way it was made and how it turned out here, as a finished film. Sure, there are occasions where the budget and limitations the creators had caused some of the things they tried to not always succeed, be it a camera shot or the use of a special effect. I forgave these things for the most part, due to how original and different the entire project felt to me. I mean… this is really a family affair, like I said, and I think it’s pretty damn cool to know that it was all made with basically three folks putting their passion into it.

Aside from a few small side-characters, this is a tale of three. I thought each of the actors nailed it. I think, also, if I were going to pick my personal highlight of the entire film it would be the beautiful cinematography. There are some sequences here that are totally gorgeous, especially some of the outdoor shots and scenes in the snow. It just looks really slick. I did think there were moments where the film dragged its feet a touch, and the fairly short-yet-normal 92 minute length felt like longer. I wouldn’t say it was a sluggish experience, but I did think parts of it were slower than others. Slow isn’t always a bad thing, though. The plot it interesting, there are some wonderful sequences to be found and the performances surpassed what I envisioned before going in. There are some creative ways in which the story is told, and those things helped it stand out above the small-film horror crowd.

It takes a lot to be an original in the world of horror, a genre packed like sardines with anything and everything, yet The Deeper You Dig manages it quite well. I had a lot of fun with this story, and the way it was all done didn’t take away from my enjoyment but rather improved it, adding a personal touch to what was happening on screen and a feeling, as a viewer, of wanting to like it. I did like it. I thought it was a cool horror flick with some nice dramatic elements that pushed it into a more emotional territory. Flaws aside, this was a treat and only makes me excited to experience the next thing that the Adams family create next.

A haunting original, The Deeper you Dig has no right being this good, quite frankly. Engaging stuff.

***½  3.5/5

The Deeper you Dig screened at Fantasia International Film Festival on July 11th 2019.

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