Every film festival will have one movie that feels deeply personal. A movie that may not have the biggest budget or the flashiest special effects, but still manages to hit in a way that works for the audience.
With this year’s Fantasia Festival, Deeper you Dig is that film. Crafted by family filmmakers John Adams, Toby Poser, and Zelda Adams, this is a movie that is personal, dark, and oddly inviting.
Set in the icy landscape of the Catskill Mountains, an accident on the side of the road leads to death, hauntings, and madness. After the young daughter Echo (Zelda Adams) of a local psychic Ivy (Toby Poser) is killed in an alcohol-related accident, a mother torn apart by grief looks to explore the deepest parts of herself to find the killer and speak once again to the spirt of her now-dead daughter.
Deeper You Dig has the same shoe-string DIY feel as many of the great horror films past. The family film making team manages to craft a story that draws the viewer in while making every ounce of budget work for them. Using the Catskill Mountains and surrounding forests they manage to paint a bleak, haunting picture of loss and regret.
While at times wooden, the family take to their roles well, with genuine love and compassion are seen throughout. As the madness envelopes the cast, despite the budget constraints the avant-garde film style and use of colour and clever use of set design offer an almost Twin Peaks feel to the small town and the characters within.
The dreamlike nature of the set design, scenery, and images work to give a sense of constant dread, even when little is taking place. As Ivy works to find the truth, the use of dreams and abstract settings work at both providing details of the world and her gifts, as well as making the viewer feel uneasy and tense as the events unfold.
If I had any gripe it would be the use of some of the effects that ultimately detracts from the message and simple look the film manages to create. Often, less is more, and the brooding nature of Deeper You Dig works well at setting a tone and building tension and dread. Some of the effects tend to take away this feeling, exposing the artifice resting just below the surface.
Deeper You Dig captures the essence of underground cinema, using every tool at available. John Adams, Toby Poser, and Zelda Adams have their hands on every part of this movie, and it shows in the best way possible. From the set, editing, acting and score, Deeper You Dig is an intimate journey into madness, loss and death.
With so many glossy horror films trickling out of Hollywood, this small, unique movie manages to hit home in a way that I did not expect. While it will not be for everyone, and the budget at times does limit the potential, Deeper You Dig is a captivating indie film that deserves your attention.