I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 156 years.
John Adams and Toby Poser
John Adams and Toby Poser
Before you read on, just know that the horror movie The Deeper You Dig opens with the credits “An Adams Family” movie. You would not be the first to snap your fingers to the Addams Family theme song that inevitably pops into your head.
I know I did.
While the spelling of the families’ names is different, The Deeper You Dig and The Addams Family (movies and TV show) do share similarities even though Deeper doesn’t have as catchy a theme song.
Both incorporate snowy roads and drunk driving.
Both have an unusually hirsute cousin that talks in gibberish.
And both involved mediums that try to bilk rubes for money. There, I’ve said too much. Let’s go to the synopsis. If you make it to the end of the review you can apply to be an honorary member of the Adams family and make an appearance in their next movie. Probably as someone who gets brutally murdered in the first act.
The Deeper You Dig starts in the quiet little burg of Snow Town. I didn’t actually get the name of the town but more than once main characters say some version of the phrase, “It’s going to snow tonight” or “I hope nobody gets killed while it’s snowing tonight”.
We meet 14-year old Echo (writer/director Zelda Adams). She’s being picked up at school by her mother Ivy (played by her real-life mother Toby Poser and who is also a writer/director of this movie). They’re going to the store to pick up some sundries because, as you might have heard, it’s going to snow tonight.
Before the snow really hits, Ivy tells Echo she’s got some work to do, but she’ll be back before the weather sets in. You see, Ivy is a medium, but she rejected her powers for the most part and now only uses it to grift old women out of their money by pretending their dead husband Gary or Barry can’t speak to them from the Great Beyond unless they drop another $50. It’s nice work if you can get it.
Meanwhile, a man named Kurt (John Adams, not the President, but father to Zelda and husband to Ivy and also a writer/director of this movie) is at a bar and makes sure to have more than a few drinks before the, say it with me, snow comes in. We just met him. Wonder what he has to do with the rest of the story if all he’s doing is drinking before driving back home before, you know.
Ivy is at her appointment with old Mrs. Gullible Widow earning a little extra money. It’s a harmless con. Ivy gets more money and the old ladies get some peace with their dead loved ones. It’s clear Ivy can communicate with the dead, but it’s also clear that she’s really not trying.
While Echo waits for her mom, she decides to go out and hang out and frolic in the snow where nothing bad could possibly happen.
Drunk Kurt is driving back home in low visibility because nothing bad could possibly happen. He’s trying to renovate a house so he could flip it and being drunk and extremely cold will totally help in that regard.
Kurt is thinking about all the wonderful choices he’s made with his life when he hears a thud.
Kurt gets out of his truck and sees he’s hit a girl. It’s Echo and there’s no way you could have seen this coming. But the lack of light due to the weather and his drunkenness and the fact that everyone could see this coming made the conditions prime for snowy homicide.
Kurt picks up Echo’s body and puts it in his trunk. One of many great decisions he’s made today.
Ivy is home and sees that Echo is gone. She’s not usually like this. She knows something is wrong. She calls the police to file a missing persons report even though her intuition tells her…something she doesn’t yet want to acknowledge.
Still-drunk Kurt is sad because he really didn’t mean to hit the girl. It was her fault for being out in the snow while he was drunk and behind the wheel of a vehicle. No one’s going to miss her. He’ll put her body somewhere in the house and deal with it later. It’s totally her fault she’s dead. If only he had another beer that would totally make everything better.
Except that Echo isn’t really dead.
Kurt thinks about yet another wonderful decision he’ll make in a night chock-full of wonderful decisions.
What Works With The Deeper You Dig
- Even though it’s a family affair, the best performance of the movie goes to John Adams as the deeply conflicted drunkard Kurt. You don’t have to dig deep to find reasons to hate Kurt and the harm his actions cause during the movie. It is feat of writing and acting that you do empathize with Kurt as the movie goes on. Yes, you want him to get what’s coming to him, but you feel less animosity towards his as Deeper nears its end.
- The Adams Family screenplay is not your typical setup and payoff. There are more than a few moments when you can see where the story will lead, but the movie keeps the viewer off balance for most of its running time. Even though the movie feels familiar at times, you’re never really comfortable in that familiarity. The sparse screenplay makes the most of a limited budget.
- Patience pays off as a slow (but never boring) buildup leads to a very layered movie that would reward a second viewing.
What Doesn’t Work With The Deeper You Dig
- Ostensibly labeled a horror movie, there really isn’t anything scary that goes on that you can’t see coming. Even then there’s nothing that jolts you out of your seat and sends you running naked out into the cold as it’s more of a supernatural drama. Deeper is a solid unsettling movie about guilt and the choices we make in life (oddly akin to 2017’s excellent A Ghost Story) but if you’re looking exclusively for scares, cheap or otherwise, you won’t get much no matter how deep you dig.
Don’t bury your chance at seeing this solid disquieting movie because you’ll have to dig it up again. Revel in the Adams family’s DIY tale of mistakes and otherworldly consequences. It’ll make you want to avoid Adams family reunions but compel you to see their next movie.
Buy The Deeper you Dig Here!
Noel Penaflor (author) from California on November 05, 2020:
Thank you Rose!
Rose McCoy on November 05, 2020:
As always, funny and informative review!