Note: All stills were provided by Arrow Video. Check out more Arrow Video information at https://conta.cc/3kVxOw1. Free trials are currently available!
This review is thanks to Arrow Video, a UK-based film restoring and distributing company, also now dabbling in streaming services. Not only do they sell DVDs and Blu-Ray of giallo classics, Japanese kaiju, and horror staples, they sell the massively under-appreciated, Blade of the Axe,………..to Europeans and in the UK. Bummer, but I’m glad it’s getting out there. (European/UK friends! You’ve been called upon!)
“We are a true indie SVOD service created and run by people that love cult films of all kinds. We relish the opportunity of finding new ways to champion movies we are excited about. We want to get these often rarely seen – but fantastic – stories to a wider audience whilst developing a strong community with likeminded fans.
ARROW is building on our decades of experience in the Cult film and physical media worlds. We believe in film, from horror to action to westerns to the truly bizarre. We are using our experience as a distributor and our recent digital presence to deliver a very different SVOD service in ARROW.
Our approach to supporting each release on ARROW includes looking to supplement the feature films with hours of additional content that paints a fuller story of the filmmakers, genres and the movies themselves. We commission stunning artwork from some of the best illustrators and artists from around the world and work as closely as we can with the filmmakers themselves in how their film is released.“
So, how ‘bout that streaming/movie?
Well, I was given the film, The Deeper You Dig, to try it out. Thank you, Arrow for the opportunity to try your digital wares, let’s get into the film.
Teenage daughter Echo and mother Ivy have a closer-than-close relationship. It seems like in the small town in this isolated wilderness, they have bonded tightly together.
However, Echo is murdered by loner and recluse, Kurt, after a sledding accident gone awry.
Kurt attempts to hide the body, but cannot escape the ghost of Echo and the suspicion of Ivy. As Ivy grows closer to Kurt and the secrets he hides, the line of sanity begins to blur…
Okay, I’m going to say this straight-up so we can move past it. Stiff, awkward acting. For a family (like real-honest family) who made this movie, it seems so bland and muted with their acting. I get the “art-house” feel they were going for (and, in some ways, succeed in), but it falls like damp corrugated cardboard in some really emotional scenes.
In fact, the flat affect was sometimes so pronounced, I laughed during times I think were meant to be higher tension scenes (SEE: when Echo’s ghost first shows up and says, “‘Sup…”).
However, alien-Saltine-cracker-acting aside…there are really fantastic moments, both visually and writing-wise. The build up is a slow-burn, but so visually engaging and fun to watch, it’s a genuine treat. The movie asks to be viewed with a deeper sincerity than your average indie. With the budget being low, they did some really interesting shots and transitions, especially as the story became more surreal and cerebral.
Some might find the soundtrack lacking, but I found the natural sounds instead of music a pure aesthetic delight that grounded me more to the setting surrounding these characters and the role that isolation played within the story. Most of the score was diegetic, so it brought you closer into the story, and was very simplistic, rustic, and raw. It matched the austere scenes of Northern winters and as the seasons blurred into themselves, muted by the pain of a mother losing her daughter and maybe her sanity (along with Kurt).
Also, because I’m a stickler for this, the effects were really good. I was surprised at how naturally they flowed. I’m a huge //ahem// advocate, let’s say, for practical effects, but these CG effects (mixed with practical and clever edits) were really fluid within the scenes. Honestly better than some bigger budget movies in the theater, so terrific job and kudos.
I’m not going to spoil the end. I wasn’t a super fan of the very, very end choice, but I appreciated the journey and where we ended up.
Brain Roll Juice:
There’s a lot of symbolism here. Tarot cards. Coldness. Isolation. Sleds…
But let’s just talk about teenager girls, or more aptly, teenage ghosts. Zelda Adams plays Echo, the Girl Who Sleds at Midnight, and subsequently becomes a ghost. But not any ghost, a teenage ghost.
There were times I probably wasn’t meant to laugh at her complete nonchalance and angsty detachment, but I did…and maybe that’s not a bad thing.
It’s a refreshing, different take from your normal haunting. She isn’t some mid-century waif that died from tuberculosis or a broken-heart when her fiance didn’t come back from The War (pick one). While she’s still vengeful, she’s a modern teenage hipster – annoying her killer with her hipster music, scoffing at his inadequacies, and blandly there to torment him into madness.
She has nowhere else to go and just like a teenager on a court-appointed weekend with her estranged father, she will make him feel every uncomfortable second between them one-hundred-fold. She will make damn sure he knows she isn’t happy with this at all.
Maybe it’s because he really is her dad in real life, but the chemistry works so well in this movie. That ambivalent resentment and biting apathy Adams instills in this ghost is not one like the creepy, hell-bent Sadako, but a numbly sarcastic ghoul, belittling her killer’s every action and reaction, kicking him when he’s down and keeping him there.
And…it’s sometimes really funny.
An indie, sometimes surreal, film that makes a few refreshing choices. Not for a bad movie night with friends, but a much better date movie than Roller Gator. If you want something a little deeper, then you might dig this movie.(3.5 / 5)
Once again, check out more Arrow Video information at https://conta.cc/3kVxOw1. Free trials, check it out, a lot of fun movies on there for horror and other genres.