Monday, August 15, 2022

Making a Splash

After a decade of complaining about the bland murkiness of found footage horror, it's strange to realize I kind of ... miss them. 

Quick Plot: Like any attractive white 20something couple, Tina and Ben are eager vloggers pumping out videos where they investigate haunted historical sites. Ben is far more into the metrics than Tina, who'd rather just enjoy the history with a glass of wine.

I'm with you, Tina.

Bummed by their lack of views, the couple heads to a remote part of France to scuba dive through an abandoned submerged facility. Unfortunately, the lakeside area is now a tourist attraction but thankfully (or not), a local named Pierre knows a far better off-the-map spot where an entire house is fully intact underwater.

With 61 minutes and 22 seconds of potential air supply, Ben and Tina dive down and float through a shockingly well-preserved mansion decorated with both Christian and satanic icons. Their footage gets quite a boost when they discover a couple chained and masked, clearly having been tortured to death and left as terrifying aquatic lawn ornaments. 

And of course, just as they decide to turn back to shore, the house decides it would rather keep them there. 

Written and directed by the Inside team of Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, The Deep House is a found-ish footage haunted house story with a great premise and some tight execution. Inside was a game-change for horror, bringing French extremity to the forefront. Like most genre fans, I was pretty impressed at its debut, though a rewatch a few years back left me thinking some of its style hadn't aged overly well. 

Who knows how I'll feel about The Deep House in 15 years, but today, I dub it a success. Underwater stories are always going to have some natural built-in tension, but they can also be murky, losing some of the actual watchability due to the limitations of filming in aquatic conditions (yes 47 Meters Down, I'm looking at you). The Deep House manages to show us exactly what we need to see while teasing what's just out of our characters' reach. It's exactly as it should be. 

High Points
The concept of "haunted house under the sea" is pretty spectacular, but the details also go a long way. I don't want to spoil them, but let's say that the way our ghosts exist and move in this plain is perfectly strange and fitting

Low Points
At this point, it's basically a given that any leading male character in a found footage horror film is going to be awful. Actor James Jagger is perfectly fine as Ben, but not surprisingly, Ben is pretty much the worst. You could do better Tina. 

Lessons Learned
You don't go viral by drinking vino

The trashier a hotel looks form the outside, the fancier the bathtub will be inside
Jump scares are a surefire ticket to maximum likes

I haven't heard many positive comments on The Deep House, but for me, it's a high recommend. The film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime (though I've seen it jump from three different platforms in the last year). Find it...wherever it is.

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