East Coast Premiere
2019 • USA • 92 min.
Director: John Adams, Toby Poser
Screenwriter: John Adams, Toby Poser
Cast: John Adams, Toby Poser, Zelda Adams
March 29, 2020 @ 6:00 pm
Tragedy entwines with the supernatural in The Deeper You Dig, a spellbinding occult horror film certain to please BUFF’s witchiest film connoisseurs. It weaves a tale of murder, an unbreakable familial bond, and otherworldly retribution set in the picturesque Catskill Mountains, a backdrop simultaneously beautiful, bleak, and isolating. It’s the latest venture from Wonder Wheel Productions, a family-run collective who’ve been making visually arresting art together since 2010. Guided by husband and wife writer-directors John Adams and Toby Poser, this multifaceted outfit has produced a diverse array of work featuring characters surviving on the fringes of society. Their effort here is a triumph of emotionally-driven narrative embellished with stunning macabre detail.
On his way home from the local watering hole on a snowy night, loner house flipper Kurt (John Adams) hits a neighbor girl named Echo (Zelda Adams) with his truck. Fearful of the repercussions, he hastily covers up the accident, setting off a disturbing chain of events. His life intersects with Echo’s distraught mother Ivy (Toby Poser), a psychic in search of her missing daughter. Ivy uses her connection to the spirit world to aid in her search, awakening dark forces that plague them both with nightmarish visions, urging Ivy toward the truth, while shattering Kurt’s tenuous grip on reality.
Adams and Poser have crafted a moving story accentuated by sublime moments of surreal terror. The stark photography – both in its winterized natural setting and in artfully composed grotesquerie – lifts the film high above the limitations of renegade filmmaking. Shades of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart abound, particularly in the crisp sound design and pulsing score, evoking the rhythms of an anguished beating heart. The wonderful trio of actors act as perfect vessels for delivering the heady thematic elements – the profound loss, grief, and guilt – churning at its core.
The Deeper You Dig has intriguing dynamics at play, resonating beyond what’s captured on screen. A challenging contrast between art and reality presents itself within the framework: parents confronting difficult subject matter by exploring the tragic onscreen death of a child character portrayed by their real-life daughter. Once the film’s strange and bloody denouement arrives, our investment in Ivy’s journey pays off with an unexpected twist on the conventional ghost story, a touching and ironic ode to enduring love.
One in Two People
Ali Mashayekhi, Canada, 8 min.
Emily is surrounded by her friends as she reveals her dark secret.