Fantasia 2019 Review: THE DEEPER YOU DIG Is A Fascinating Micro-Budget Psychological Horror With A Great Origin Story
A mother, Ivy (Toby Poser) and her daughter Echo (Zelda Adams) live alone out in the country. They seem to share an unusually close relationship, despite the fact that Echo is of the age where a young girl would be eager to rage against the parental machine. One night, when Echo is out sledding she meets with a terrible accident. Their nearest neighbor Kurt (John Adams), a loner fixing up a local abandoned property for resale, strikes Echo, leaving her mortally wounded. In a panic, Kurt decides that the only thing he can do is to dispose of the body, it was an accident after all, but with a sudden shocking turn, he moves from hysterical to downright evil, and the job gets much more complicated.
Ivy, a medium by trade, has her own panic when Echo never comes home and follows the usual rules by calling the police and handing out missing-person flyers at the local businesses. Without much in the way of leads, she turns to the mystic arts to try and suss out some answers before she goes crazy. Meanwhile, Kurt is trying to move on from his own terrible secret, but his immediate past seems to have no interest in leaving him alone, and he soon receives visitations from what appears to be the ghost of Echo, telling him that he'll never be rid of her.
Eventually Ivy's suspicions land on Kurt, but with no evidence, she's unable to do much. With both Ivy and Kurt's mental states breaking down, it may be up to the spirit of Echo to lead them toward mutual resolution, but neither one is going to like what that looks like. In the end, they come together in a surprising way, completely satisfactory for neither, but inevitable all the same.
A kind of ambitious family project, The Deeper You Dig was co-written, co-directed, and shot by Toby Poser, John Adams, and their daughter Zelda. This low budget feature is a wonder of ingenuity, with each of the three contributing more or less equally to the completion of a pretty damn decent feature debut.
The film explores grief in a novel way, using the ghostly spectre of a post-mortem Echo to personify both Kurt's guilt and Ivy's isolation. With the help some very effective camera work from John and Zelda Adams and John's low key, but rousing score, the film's technical aspects are on par with a much larger production, and in very few instances does it feel like it was made with a three person crew.
When compared to similarly plotted, low-fi horror features, The Deeper You Dig is light years more ambitious, even when the seams show a tiny bit. While I don't think it's going to take the world by storm, it's definitely a calling card for future projects by this little family band of filmmaking fanatics. I enjoyed The Deeper You Dig very much, this team has a lot to be proud of and hopefully it'll find an appreciative audience beyond Fantasia.