When I first watched the trailer for Deep Dark, I expected a Lynchian horror; dark and surreal but nothing entirely out of the ordinary. Watching the full film, I got that, but I got more along with it – body-horror sat next satirical black comedy, all under the ceiling of a metaphorical journey into madness. How well these different elements were balanced together however, I wasn’t sure.
The film centres on Hermann, an odd but relatable artist struggling to make ends meet. One day, he discovers a strange talking hole in the wall of his new apartment that offers him the chance to fulfill his wildest dreams and grant him the success he desperately seeks – but at what price?
This Faustian pact sets up a deliciously deviant tale of greed, desire and death. The relationship between Hermann and the voice of the hole is fantastically done. The voice is seductive and manipulative, but also manages to invoke sympathy in the viewer by seeming lonely and isolated. The dynamic here also progresses as the devilish hole becomes more and more malevolent and consuming as Hermann’s life is transformed by the Kafkaesque maze he enters into.
As I mentioned before, there’s also a lot of dark humour in Deep Dark – characters main and secondary are imbued with an out-there caricature like sense of mischief and pathos that reflects similar absurdness in our freshly recalled real-life world. Sometimes the humour is deadpan, at others bold and unabashed, as seen in a scene where Hermann suspends himself from the ceiling of an art exhibition as part of one of his own pieces, only to come tumbling down to the floor tangled up figuratively and metaphorically in his mobile (the kind placed above baby’s cots) conception.
What’s also noticeable is that this humour and satirical edge serves a purpose – the pretentiousness of the art world, the commoditisation of art and the struggle of the artist to create something truly meaningful in such an environment is exposed through it. Artists, dealers and critics all seem disingenuous and manipulative.
After the film has finished, it becomes apparent that the tight direction, keen structure and perfect pacing of the film has held together its somewhat eclectic blend of styles successfully if not masterfully. Any misgivings – such as clearly apparent budget restraints – are swept aside by thematic resonance; what is the hole in Hermann’s wall? Why does it seem so isolated? What has opened the Abyss in this struggling moral conscience? … Refreshingly original questions asked in a refreshingly original way.
3.5 / 5
DEEP DARK is directed by Mike Medaglia and stars Sean McGrath, John Nielsen and the voice of Denise Poirier. It is now available on DVD/ VOD courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment.