As so-called ‘prestige horror’ becomes more and more prevalent in cinema, it seems like it’s becoming something of a competition as to who can make the most intellectually challenging and unique scare-fests. This sort of approach is all the more common in independent filmmaking, as is evident in marital duo Toby Poser and John Adams’ spookily stylish meditation on the fragile boundaries between life and death.
To reveal much about the film’s narrative would be detrimental to its impact; all you need to know is that the film studies the line between the living and the dead as it collapses after a roadside accident. What follows is a deeply hypnotic and frighteningly nightmarish yarn that feels more arthouse than the majority of horror seen today, with a focus on slow-building dread and disturbing visuals over cheap jump-scares and gore. The film is often uncomfortable to watch as it presents hallucinatory imagery that lingers on the mind, while the eerie narrative packs a powerful punch with its twists and turns.
The Deeper You Dig’s biggest downfall, alas, is its seemingly minuscule budget. Even on high-definition Blu-ray, the film looks and occasionally sounds rather uncomfortably cheap, and while the horrific imagery and narrative do their bit to distract, there are times when it feels like you’re watching a film shot on someone’s phone. It is surprising that the film has been given such a lavish release by Arrow, which bundles the film with Adams’ earlier feature The Hatred and a healthy selection of bonus features. Despite the budget limitations, though, the film is still a dark, unsettling and wholly effective horror that will certainly provide the viewer with some nightmare fuel.
Still, in a year that gave horror fans incredible titles like Saint Maud and Relic, The Deeper You Dig certainly pales in comparison. This cheap little scare-fest certainly packs a punch thanks to its disturbing visuals and absorbing narrative, but the budget limitations unfortunately stop it from being as good as it could be.
The Deeper You Dig isn’t anywhere near the best horror release of the year, but genre fans will find a lot to like in this disturbing indie chiller.