Fantasia 2019 Review: THE DEEPER YOU DIG – A Dope Family
Starring John Adams, Toby Poser, Zelda Adams
Written by John Adams and Toby Poser
Directed by John Adams and Toby Poser
Directed and written by husband John Adams and wife Toby Poser through their Wonder Wheel Productions, The Deeper You Dig is an effective drama horror. The opening greets us with the words “An Adams Family Film,” which brings joy to horror fans for various reasons. That joy continues as you begin to witness the mother’s cool connection with her daughter. But that coolness turns to iced hearts when a new neighbor enters town with his truck—and a night drive after too many beers.
Ivy Allen (Toby Poser) and her daughter Echo are close, more best friends than parent and child. The day we meet and enjoy them, turns to the night we hurt for them. Echo, riding down the snowy hills in her blue sled, is hit by a truck. Drunk, Kurt steps from behind the wheel. He is new to town, but somehow, he doesn’t seem new to covering up his sins. This leads Echo’s mother into days of walking down empty streets, posting up pictures of her missing daughter, and going to businesses, asking them to pass out her printed flyers with her information. She tries the police, but when that presents another dead end, she dives deeper into the psychic powers she practices. It takes time for her to realize the worst, recalling the voice she heard during a tarot card reading she performed the same night her daughter died. Is Echo reaching out from the grave?
Co-directors John Adams and Toby Poser have always been a force to be reckoned with in entertainment. The Deeper You Dig is no exception. Adams is literally the jack of all trades for this film, stepping up to the plate as writer, camera operator, composer, editor, and actor. Equally, Toby shines as our leading lady, but she also serves as writer, producer, and camera operator. Even from the opening of the film, showcasing shots reminiscent of cinematographer Gregg Toland’s work in Citizen Kane, you know that The Deeper You Dig is pulling out all the stops to reel you in. It takes advantage of wide angles, increasing depth inside small bars and even smaller corridors of Kurt’s rundown home. In addition, the lighting often excels, especially in daytime shots where you witness the black inside of the home alongside the bright white snow outside.
Yes, this family works well behind the camera, but that cohesion translates to in front of the camera as well. For example, the unique relationship between the mother and daughter is established in a short but effective way using dialogue and action. The daughter is carefree with cursing in front of her mother, while the mother is comfortable revealing her tarot card reading scams on clients. The bond is one you cherish, which will likely turn into sadness the day Echo grows old enough to leave for college. Knowing this, it hurts even more when death (not life) separates this family.
In addition to the great relationship dynamic is the great parallel storytelling. As you witness the relationship between Ivy and Echo, you also witness Kurt settling into this new town. The movie maintains this approach to the story for majority of the 92-minute runtime, but it never loses you.
And yet, I yearn for more. The rousing moments are short-lived for me, almost as if you never experience a change in the pace of mother asking around about her daughter. Due to this, your heart tenses even more for the climax where mother meets killer. You rejoice for the blood that surfaces, but you still want the envelope pushed further.
I love the foundation of the story and emotion, but that foundation calls for a larger building that I feel these gifted filmmakers still have room to build. I hope to see more from the Adams family. I want them to dive even deeper into the darkness because they clearly have the acting, writing, and directing chops to unearth a masterpiece.