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Review: THE DEEPER YOU DIG (2019) – Fantasia 2019

Opening with a smile evoking credit dubbing it “An Adams Family Production” The Deeper You Dig is the fifth feature from writer/directors John Adams and his wife Toby Poser. They’ve flirted with horror on The Shoot and Knuckle Jack, but this time they go all-in with excellent results.

Ivy (Toby Poser) is a psychic who’s lost her powers. She now supports her 14-year-old daughter Echo (Zelda Adams, The Hatred, The Ascent) by faking what she used to be able to do for real. Their relationship is summed up nicely early on when Ivy mentions a session with one of her clients. Echo chuckles “That’s pretty cunty” and gets the response “That’s business” before the conversation switches to going hunting on the weekend.

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But all of this is swept away when Kurt (John Adams) has a couple too many at the local bar. Swerving to avoid some deer, he instead hits Echo. Panicking, he throws her body in his truck and plans to cover up what happened. But drinking too much wasn’t the only bad mistake he’s made.

From here The Deeper You Dig focuses on Ivy trying to reawaken her psychic abilities to find out what happened to Echo. And on Echo’s spirit tormenting Kurt. The two halves of the story are told in neatly contrasting ways. Echo haunts Kurt in scenes that feel like they came from a ghost story you might have seen on late-night TV back in the day. Is there a ghost? Or is what he sees the result of Kurt’s haunted mind and guilty conscience? Or is it a bit of both?

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On the other hand, Ivy’s story is filled with bizarre and at times almost surreal images as she deals with the spirit world. Again, The Deeper You Dig blurs the line between reality, dreams, and hallucination with a skilful touch. And the final confirmation of Ivy’s suspicions is a wonderfully ironic addition to the mix.

The Deeper You Dig builds to a fittingly violent climax and a final scene that will be a nice twist for most viewers. More seasoned viewers, however, may figure it out at the last second. Or maybe it’s just me, as it references two personal favourites. And no, I’m not spoiling it by saying which films.

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The Deeper You Dig is a satisfying, low key slice of indie horror. It made its world premiere as part of Fantasia Underground at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival. You can watch for news of other screenings via the film’s website.

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