Directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, The Deep House is a supernatural horror movie which is new to rent or buy on digital in the UK this week. The movie stars James Jagger and Camille Rowe, and tells the story of a young couple who find themselves in a precarious situation when they explore a haunted house, which just happens to be underwater.
In the movie Ben and Tina are travelling around France, so that Ben can create content for social media. As part of their trip, Ben wants to explore the ruins of a collection of houses which fell victim to a flood.
Unfortunately, when Ben and Tina arrive at the location of the supposed ruins, they discover the whole area has been turned into a tourist spot and they are unable to capture any footage. However, after speaking to one of the locals, Ben discovers there is another site, a short drive away, which could prove to be more workable.
This alternative site is home to a single house which also fell victim to flooding. The house is completely submerged in a lake, but it remains fully intact, and will therefore provide Ben with some remarkable footage.
After travelling to the lake, the pair dive under the surface to explore the house, and find that it is indeed social media worthy. But as they soon discover, the house is not quite the abandoned property it should be, and before long Ben and Tina find themselves coming face-to-face with the dark secrets that lie within.
Taking cues from a number of found footage movies from the past, most notably The Blair Witch Project (1999), The Deep House is a creepy, atmospheric, and largely effective horror movie. The film takes two characters, places them into a fairly claustrophobic space, then attempts to scare them into submission by putting them through the wringer.
It derives the majority of its best moments from small flashes of things that lurk in the background, and it certainly knows how to build up its story. However, The Deep House is not perfect, and while it is good, it does lose its way somewhat when it comes to delivering some of its scares, so take this as a mild warning.
In terms of its concept, The Deep House offers something a little different to the norm, by creating what is essentially a H20 haunted house feature. The majority of the movie takes place under water, and this creates various opportunities for the central characters to react to things that bob up and down in the shadows.
The setting of the film also allows for the introduction of multiple elements of danger. While the main horror is centred around the secrets of the house, the filmmakers utilise the real-life danger of diving under water (lack of air, poor visibility, etc) to create most of the tension and suspense, and this works very well.
Where the film falls down though, is when it attempts to do a little too much with the haunted house premise. Like far too many modern horror movies, The Deep House over eggs the pudding when it comes to ghosts and ghouls, by showing more than is necessary.
For a significant portion of The Deep House, I was completely invested. The set-up had me hooked, and I found myself feeling rather unsettled as Ben and Tina explored the sunken house.
Where it started to lose me was when it unveiled the inhabitants of the building. Rather than just suggesting something awful was in the house, the film went to great lengths to show it, and I feel this was a mistake.
Implying something terrible is just around the corner, allows the imagination to go to work. Showing what is actually around the corner means the imagination is no longer required, and this only ever ends in disappointment.
The old adage that ‘less is more’ is certainly true of this movie. I simply don’t get creeped out by seeing actors in make-up moving around a haunted house, and when this kind of stuff started to crop up in The Deep House, I felt myself temporarily checking out.
With a couple of adjustments, simply to remove a few of the ‘apparitions’ in this feature, The Deep House could have been far more frightening. There are enough interesting ideas on display to deliver the horror, so I just wish the filmmakers had pulled themselves back just a touch.
But all that said, despite this shortcoming, I feel it is important to swing things back around to a more positive note, because The Deep House is still a pretty good movie. The smaller moments are where the film truly shines, and it also benefits from its use of underwater action.
With so much of the movie shot in water, I expected there would be times where I would become frustrated with what was being put on the screen. I figured the novelty of the diving would wear off quite fast, especially if all the water scenes meant I couldn’t really see anything – but this simply wasn’t the case.
All of the underwater footage looks great. The filmmakers know how to get the best out of both light and shadow, they inject a number of strong visuals when the opportunity arises, and as previously noted, the setting really adds something to the movie.
Keeping things small-scale also does this film good. It doesn’t go too big in terms of its location, nor does it attempt to juggle too many characters.
With regards to the cast, The Deep House has relatively few people on screen. The story mostly centres around Ben and Tina, and with the exception of a handful of background players who crop up here and there, these guys are the focus of the story.
With few people involved, actors James Jagger (son of Mick) and Camille Rowe have to carry the weight of the movie and they do a good job. Sure, there are moments where their characters make some rather dumb decisions, but the actors remain convincing throughout.
As for those dumb decisions, well this is a horror movie and making bad choices is Horror 101. Plus, this movie centres itself around a would-be social media star desperate for great content, so misguided choices make sense.
This isn’t me bashing social media stars, it is me noting I have seen plenty of Instagramers and Tik-Tokers doing some very daft (and very dangerous) things, simply to make a 30-second video. It happens, it has become a way of life, so seeing this reflected on screen is certainly in keeping with the reality of 2021 and it all fits in with the story.
Overall, The Deep House has some good ideas, it knows how to bring the tension and it looks great. Despite being yet another haunted house film, it attempts something new, and it really does shine in the smaller moments.
It does drop the ball a little in the scares department and this is a shame, but for the most part it achieves its goals. I liked what was presented, and found myself mostly engaged.
This is the sort of film best reserved for a late night, with the lights down very low. It may not be something to return to time-and-time again, but with Halloween mere days away, it could prove to be an enjoyable last-minute addition to your watch list.