The Deeper You Dig (2020) Movie Review: An Effective DIY Thriller

A slim, smart, and scary family affair.
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In the world of filmmaking, it’s not rare to see siblings make movies together (the Coen brothers, for example). Nor is it rare to see the children of famous actors make their own stamp in the world (Michael Douglas is just one of many). What is rare is to see a whole family work together on a film in which they all direct and star, and the parental units of said team also serve as writers and in other departments in order to bring their cinematic effort to life. This is the case with The Deeper You Dig, which is billed - and rightfully so - as “An Adams Family Film” in the opening credits. With the exception of visual effects, which were done by Samantha and Trey Lindsay, the Adams family (husband John Adams and wife Toby Poser, along with daughter Zelda Adams) covered the other necessary fields in order to make a film that is unique, thrilling, and gets under your skin in a way so few films do.

The Deeper You Dig is the very definition of a low-budget, do-it-yourself project. One of the great things about this type of film is the Adams family is given full creative control over what goes and there isn’t any kind of interference that thwarts their vision. Thank goodness, too, because the final result is something truly memorable.

The film focuses on a mother and daughter in rural New York. Mother Ivy (Poser) is a former psychic who is now making ends meet as a phony tarot card reader. Daughter Echo (Zelda Adams) is an avid hunter who dresses in goth fashion and listens to older music. They don’t have much, but they are able to get by.

A reclusive renovator named Kurt (John Adams) moves into an abandoned farmhouse down the street from them. One day, an unfortunate accident leads to Echo’s death, which then prompts Ivy to figure out what exactly happened. Initially documented as missing, Ivy knows that Echo was, in fact, killed, and Kurt had some involvement in it. Although Kurt thinks he can hide what happened and just bury Echo’s body where it can’t be found, Echo’s spirit rises to lead her mother to the truth.

That plot description is kind of vague for what The Deeper You Dig truly entails, but giving away more would ruin the surprises in store for the viewer. Once Echo dies and then comes back to lead her mother to the truth, the film becomes mysterious, eerie, and surprisingly funny. A lot of that latter part is due to Zelda Adams’ incredible, unrestrained performance as Echo. The character is smart and snarky and Adams fully embraces the role with true commitment.

The daughter of the Adams family filmmaking group also makes her directorial debut as an assistant to her parents. The trio crafts a gorgeous-looking film, capturing a rural winter setting perfectly and then effectively creating some haunting imagery that will never escape our memories.

The only minor gripes with The Deeper You Dig is that some of the special effects later in the film come off as a little choppy. However, that is most likely due to the fact that the team didn’t have much of a budget to work with. Another thing is that some of the pacing feels a bit off, even for a 96-minute feature. Some scenes overstay their welcome, and others are placed in without much depth given to them. But, as a whole, the Adams family show that true artists don’t need big budgets in order to bring their vision to life. This is something truly worth seeking for the fans of horror and those interested in indie filmmaking.

The Deeper You Dig will release to VOD platforms on June 5.

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