From the Depths (2020) Review
I’ve got to hand it to From the Depths writer-director Jose Montesinos, he surprised me. When I sat down to watch a shark film from the co-director of 5 Headed Shark Attack I understandably wasn’t expecting much. What I got was an offbeat and original mix of shark, survivor’s guilt and the supernatural.
It’s been a year since Liz (Angelica Briones, Blade The Iron Cross, Sinister Minister) lost her sister Payton (Marissa Godinez) and her boyfriend Seth (Taylor Jorgensen, Shadows of the Dead) in a shark attack. She’s trying to get her life in order and move on, but the past won’t let her go.
She still has nightmares and frequently sees sharks swimming through the air to attack her. Worst of all she sees the ghosts of Seth and Payton. They stop by to talk about old times, and about being dead.
The producers of From the Depths offer this description of the film. “A psychological shark thriller with hints of comedy. Imagine if the producers of Sharknado hired David Lynch to make a shark thriller in 7 days with 30k.” I didn’t notice much of a Sharknado influence thankfully, but the rest is pretty accurate. It’s a bizarre, at times almost surreal blend of genres that defies characterization for most of its running time.
Are the ghosts the result of Liz’s guilt? Her therapist (Liz Fenning, Flight 666, San Andreas Mega Quake) thinks so. Peyton’s ghost says she knows why she feels so much guilt, she knew about her affair with Seth and let the shark get her rather than pull her to safety.
The ghosts are obviously influenced by Jack from An American Werewolf in London, all decay, wisecracks and sarcasm and not happy about being dead. They also are insistent that she break up with her girlfriend Roberta (Terra Strong, Zoombies 2, The Litch). That seems an odd demand all things considered. Is it a fear of commitment manifesting itself? Or some kind of revenge from beyond the grave?
From the Depths plays its cards close to the chest and doesn’t give much away. Some scenes, such as a shark attack in a swimming pool, are obviously hallucinations, but are they all? Either as a portrait of someone succumbing to madness or a ghost story, the film is compelling and held my interest.
The cast and crew of From the Depths deserve a lot of credit for that. Even without the short shoot and low budget, making material like this work isn’t easy. Scenes of a shark swimming up a hallway could easily have been unintentionally funny, see Ouija Shark for proof of that. The same for the scenes of Liz talking to the ghosts. They don’t overplay them or try to go for cheap scares or laughs. They actually feel almost like normal conversations despite the subject matter.
Thankfully they didn’t try getting too fancy with the effects and end up with scenes their budget couldn’t handle. Seth and Peyton are made up just enough to look dead. Even the CGI shark works most of the time, the filmmakers wisely go for quality of shots over quantity.
It’s doubly satisfying to see them succeed because so many of the cast and crew have ties to The Asylum. After being stuck in their shitfests they deserve a chance to show what they can do with quality material. And From the Depths is quality material, give or take the final sequence which it could have done without.
From the Depths played the Another Hole in the Head Film Festival in December and has been picked up by ITN Distribution. You can keep an eye on their Facebook page and website or the film’s Facebook page for details. And if you want a second opinion on it, you can check out the reviews over on Movies and Mania.