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Deeper You Dig, The

Other // Unrated // September 29, 2020
List Price: $39.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted October 15, 2020 | E-mail the Author

The Movie:


The Deeper You Dig was written, directed by and stars filmmaking family the Adams Family, father John Adams, mother Toby Poser and daughter Zelda Adams. The story begins when middle-aged Ivy (Toby Poser) picks up her fourteen-year-old goth kid daughter Echo (Zelda Adams) from her school. It's clear from their conversation that they have a strong relationship as they joke about Echo's desire not to do homework, but to go sledding. The snow in their upstate New York town is starting to get pretty heavy. Ivy can't go with her because she's got a Tarot Card reading to do for Mrs. Minskey (Joan Poser), an elderly lady who Ivy's intent on getting a bit more money from before using her abilities to let her talk to her dead husband.


That night, Echo goes sledding by herself. A man named Kurt (John Adams) leaves a tavern in town after a meal and a few drinks and runs her over in the middle of the road. He panics and throws what he believes to be her dead body into the back of his truck and brings it back to the rundown house he's fixing up and planning to flip. There, after laying Echo in the bathtub, he realizes that although she was injured she wasn't killed. He fixes that and snuffs her out, proceeding shortly after to try and bury her in the woods outside his house. Before long, the cops have come around and questioned him as has Ivy herself. Kurt is evasive but no one looking in on this can really pin anything on him…. And then he sees Echo in his house. Things get strange from here on out and we'll leave the plot synopsis at that in order to avoid spoilers.


The Deeper You Dig does a lot of things right. For a movie made on a modest budget, it's a ridiculously good looking picture. The cinematography, by John and Zelda Adams, really does a fantastic job of capturing the loneliness of the locations and the central characters that inhabit them, consistently making use of unusual but very effective camera angles to keep us visually engaged. There's also some interesting use of sound here, not just in the film's score, but in the foley effects as well. This further helps to build atmosphere in the picture. The movie also does an interesting job of exploring the themes of loss and grief, detailing the lengths that some people will go to in order to be reconnected with a loved one taken too soon. Additionally, the acting is generally pretty solid. It isn't always perfect, there are a couple of spots where it seems like some of the supporting players are, well, acting, but the three leads do a nice job here, the fact that they are as close in real life certainly adding a layer of comfortability to the proceedings that might be missing from other indie films.


At the same time, the admittedly very ambitious films does suffer from some pacing issues. This was clearly a very deliberate choice on the part of the filmmakers, to keep things moving slowly, likely in an attempt to build character development but we don't get quite enough of that character development to justify it. A relationship does develop, of sorts, between Ivy and Kurt, but we don't really wind up learning much about them when it does. More on Kurt, why he is the way he is in this movie, in particular would have been very welcome. On top of that, the movie feels less suspenseful than it should, occasionally generating some decent tension but not really building off of it the way that it could and probably should have. There's also some digital effects work in the picture that doesn't work, likely a budgetary limitation but bad CGI is still bad CGI regardless. Clearly the people behind this movie have a lot of talent, here's hoping that their next effort continues to impress on a technical level but improves on some of this latest offerings shortcomings.


The Video:


The Deeper You Dig arrives on a 50GB Blu-ray disc from Arrow Video with the feature presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 1.78.1 widescreen taking up 27.8GBs of space on the disc. Shot digitally, there's obviously no print damage or grain issues to note, the image is pristine. Generally it looks quite good, but there are some spots where you'll notice some banding. Some scenes look more organic and less digitalized then others, whereas in other shots it is clear that this was shot digitally. Regardless, the vast majority of the movie looks very nice and shows some frequently impressive detail and strong color reproduction.


The Audio:


The only audio option on the disc is an English language 24-bit LPCM 2.0 Stereo track. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. The audio is very good, there's some strong channel separation that adds to the movie's atmosphere and the odd but effective score sounds very strong. The track is well-balanced and free of any hiss or distortion.


The Extras:


Arrow has presented this film in a limited edition two-disc set. Extras are laid out as follows:


DISC ONE:


First up is an audio commentary by writers/directors/stars Toby Poser and John Adams. It's quite an active track, obviously they have a pretty high comfort level together, and they cover a lot of ground. There's talk here about where the ideas for the movie came from, casting the picture, the New York State locations in the film, the use of Tarot Cards in the movie and plenty of talk about how many people wore a few different hats in the production.


As to the featurettes? At Home With The Adams Family, an in-depth interview with the trio of filmmakers responsible for The Deeper You Dig that clocks in at just under fifty-minutes. Here the three people primarily responsible for making the film that is actually quite amusing and personable. The three answer questions, presented to them on Tarot cards of course, about their work and specifically about their time spent on the film and they do it with a great sense of humor as well. It's In The Blood: The Family In The Horror Genre is a twenty-six-minute visual essay by critic Anton Bitel that does a deep dive into the theme of family in The Deeper You Dig and the Adams Family's other works as well as few other horror films that deal with similar ideas and themes. The twelve-minute Special Effects Breakdown with commentary by Trey Lindsay is, as it sounds, as segment in which the film's special effects maestro talks about his work on the film over footage that demonstrates his points. It's quite interesting. The FrightFest TV interview with the Adams Family is an eight-minute segment where Toby Poser and Zelda and John Adams are interviewed by Michael Munser about the picture.


Rounding out the extras on the first disc are a couple of Hellbender music videos, a theatrical trailer, an image gallery, menus and chapter selection.


DISC TWO:


The biggest extra on this second disc is the inclusion of The Hatred, also directed by John Adams. The feature is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition with LPCM 2.0 Stereo audio and optional English subtitles and the presentation quality is just fine. The hour long film also stars Zelda Adams. The story is set in 1869, in Blackfoot Territory, where a group of surviving soldiers are marching across a mountain range and quickly running out of food. It's decided by the higher ups that they'll execute the prisoner of war (John Adams, credited as John Law) who they've brought with them so that there will be one less mouth to feed. When the same group of soldiers comes across a family who doesn't not grant their request for food, they too are killed, with only the daughter (Zelda Adams) surviving. She prays for vengeance, and her prayers are answered when the prisoner comes back from the dead, now named ‘Vengeance,' and works with her to see that she gets what she wants.


The Hated is a nicely shot indie that moves at a decent pace and that plays with some interesting ideas. The acting isn't always perfect and the production values sometimes belay the low budget origins of the film, but the cinematography is quite strong, it's a very sharp looking film.


Also included on this second disc are some Kid Kalifornia music videos, menus and chapter selection.


As to the packaging, Arrow also supplies some nice reversible sleeve art featuring two options, a double-sided fold-out poster and a limited edition illustrated collector's booklet that features credits for the feature and the Blu-ray release as well as new writing on the film and its creators penned by Neil Mitchell.


Overall:

The Deeper You Dig is an interesting film indie genre picture that is as flawed as it is effective but it's an impressive technical achievement. Arrow has done a very nice job bringing it, and The Hatred, to Blu-ray with a strong presentation and a nice selection of extras. Recommended to those with a taste for indie horror and who appreciate the slow burn, a decent rental for everyone else.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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