Beneath a blanket of snow in an isolated section of the Catskill Mountains, secrets refuse to remain buried in the supernatural horror thriller “The Deeper You Dig” from filmmaking family Toby Poser, John Adams and Zelda Adams.
The beautifully shot slow-burner revolves around the tragic death of a 14-year-old girl, her psychic con artist mother and a mysterious loner. Haunting images, nods to ’80s horror and an atmosphere that fluctuates between the real and surreal keep the audience engaged in what can be described as the Coen brothers meet Stephen King.
14-year-old Echo (Zelda Adams) is an Emo girl who’s into hunting, old-timey music and wearing dark lipstick, which in this case matches her blue parka. In a car ride home with her mother Ivy (Toby Poser), Echo expresses her excitement for going hunting this weekend, where she predicts she’ll get her seventh buck in under 20 minutes. Ivy doesn’t doubt it.
It’s winter in the Catskills, which means Echo gets to engage in another of her favorite pastimes: sledding. Usually, mom keeps an eye out for traffic during the recreational activity, but tonight, she’s busy with a client or in this case, an easy target. Ivy was once an astute psychic, but her gift is gone and now she scams clients by pretending to contact their loved ones after predicting their futures by reading tarot cards.
Tragedy strikes when Kurt (John Adams), a newcomer to the area, who’s renovating an old farmhouse, drives home at night after taking shots and drinking beer at a local restaurant. After narrowly missing a couple of bucks, the loner runs something over with his truck as evident by the loud thump. When Kurt gets out to check, he discovers Echo’s body lying on the desolate road. He panics, throws Echo’s body in the bed and heads home to dispose of the dead girl.
Ivy contacts the police after Echo disappears, and while they wait to see if the teenager turns up after possibly running away, Ivy’s motherly intuition kicks in and she begins to investigate her daughter’s vanishing, fearing the worst.
“The Deeper You Dig” keeps the audience engaged with good performances by the Adams family, especially Toby Poser as the concerned mother and former medium.
The film moves at a moderate pace as the tension builds and the violence becomes more graphic. The nontraditional score by director John Adams is made up of various sonic landscapes that tie in nicely with the film’s creepy theme, while the color blue becomes the film’s palette as it emerges in clothing, lipstick, the sled and the High Priestess tarot card.
The Adams family is a talented bunch of filmmakers who are usually a foursome, but eldest daughter, Lulu, is off at college leaving John, Toby and youngest daughter, Zelda, to carry on their passion for indie films.
This is the fifth and best feature by the clan, who write, produce, direct, act and score the film. The group has been in Victoria several times representing one of their projects at the Victoria TX Independent Film Festival (VTXIFF), where their band Hellbender performed an incredible set at Rosebud Records Grill and Theater. By the way, Zelda’s vocals are featured in the song during the closing credits. The youngest member of the family is also listed as the film’s co-director.
You catch the U.S. premiere of “The Deeper You Dig” this week at Austin’s Fantastic Fest with screenings scheduled at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 22 and at 8 p.m. Sept. 24.
For tickets, badges and information, go to fantasticfest.com.