The Deeper You Dig Review
Snow covers landscapes leaving an impression of pristine beauty and silence. But if you get just under the surface of that you will also find it concealing a multitude of sins, as is the case in John Adams and Toby Poser’s The Deeper You Dig.
After a tragic accident, two people are still connected to the spirit of a 14 year old girl. But what does she want, justice or revenge?
This is a real family affair, with co-director’s Adams and Poser starring as Kurt and Ivy and their daughter Zelda Adams playing teenager Echo. I would say that it certainly lends itself to the intimacy of the film and makes it a personal piece picking apart these characters. There is a clear starkness to The Deeper You Dig that I admire. It has a lot of still shots which linger and is never afraid to use silence, letting events play out that we may draw our own conclusions from.
We are allowed to observe the relationship between Ivy and Echo of a very relaxed and clearly loving parent and child dynamic, certainly helped by the real life connection, and can see that there is something guarded about this lone individual Kurt fixing up a house in the middle of nowhere but are never explicitly told what his story is. We have the potential for an exploration of guilt and grief in this strange triangle of characters against a background of a modern American Gothic. However then things just get a bit weird and it never gets back to those qualities that interested me initially.
The concept of someone being haunted by their murder victim is a decent premise in a very classic ghost story way, but then we have this plot element of Ivy seeking more otherworldly means of contacting her daughter. This is where the film really gets away from that unadorned quality for something a bit stranger, and the sequences are certainly creative and well-constructed, but they don’t really achieve much beyond being a bit weird. The strangeness of Echo’s visitations work because they still have a sense of being in reality, they could easily just be a manifestation of Kurt’s guilt and Ivy’s mourning, these other moments less so.
Lake Mungo is a fantastic melding of the supernatural with realistic grief, for example, but if anything, the drawing on more occult material here just feels like strangeness for strangeness sake. I also feel like the movie leans a little into thinking it is cleverer than it actually is. Echo is now an echo of her former self, get it?
Revenge and clinging to the past have no good outcome. It’s an ending, but not a happy one. Nothing is truly resolved, and whilst that is a message that can have a lot of impact when done well it doesn’t feel as realised here as it could have been.
There are a lot of interesting ideas in The Deeper you Dig, and it is an impressive little low-budget production, but for me the separate pieces never came together in any way to be a truly effective whole for me.