THE DEEPER YOU DIG (2020)
Directors: John Adams, Toby Poser
Writers: John Adams, Toby Poser
Stars: John Adams, Toby Poser, Zelda Adams
Now I’m in your head.
The Deeper You Dig (2020) is a ghost story about the bond between a mother and daughter and the stranger who comes between them. Fourteen-year-old Echo (Zelda Adams) loves her mother, blue lipstick, hunting, drawing, and Depression-era music. She is ripped away from these things one night by her neighbor Kurt (writer and director John Adams) after a car accident escalates to murder. Unwilling to face the consequences of his actions, Kurt’s attempts to hide Echo’s body unleashes a spectral being that pursues him to madness. Ivy (writer and director Toby Poser), Echo’s distraught mother, relentlessly devotes herself to searching for her daughter in this world and the one beyond. To do so, she must go on a deep journey into the spirit realm and her past life as a medium. The film examines obsession, guilt, vengeance, and the need for closure, which drives the characters in this triptych story.
Stories of ghosts and hauntings are about an individual’s history. Born from Life’s unachieved endeavors such as unrighted wrongs, or lack of closure created by tragic circumstances, they reflect a strong discontent that bridges two planes of existence. The haunting Kurt experiences are created by his savage murder of Echo and his obsession with flipping his house. What is missing from The Deeper You Dig is any back story of the character’s lives to explain their actions. The viewer is left wondering why Kurt would commit such a drastic crime. Even more fascinating, why did Ivy abandon the spirit world? Did Echo’s birth have something to do with it?
Starring, written and directed (and pretty much everything else) by the husband and wife team of John Adams and Toby Poser, and featuring their daughter Zelda, The Deeper You Dig is more than a modest family project. The cinematography is stunning. Deriving great visuals from New England’s beautiful woods and mountains, John and daughter Zelda expertly use those exteriors to show the passing of time as seasons change. Especially beautiful are the scenes at the beginning of the movie in the seasonal twilight of late winter. The chiaroscuro effect of glowing whites in a sea of black catches the eye and reminds the viewer of the firm boundary between our world and the next.
Even though the story takes place over a full year, Poser and Adams’ script is a stripped-down, to the point, supernatural drama. The pacing moves forward at all times. There are a few fantastical scenes of visions and hauntings that are modest but well done. All this leads to a climax that is unconventional and surprising. The Deeper You Dig ends on an emotionally satisfying end.
The Deeper You Dig may have had humble origins as a family project, but Poser and Adams applied an artisan’s touch to their DIY film. The beauty of the cinematography, the compelling quality of the story, and the engaging performances of the principal players combine to make a high-quality, compelling movie about obsessions, ghosts, and longing. It is currently streaming on multiple platforms.
Check out the trailer below: