Director: Michael Medaglia
Cast: Sean McGrath, John Nielsen, Monica Graves, Denise Poirier, Mary McDonald-Lewis
Running Time: 79 minutes
One part art-house indie flick, one part Spike Jonze’s HER, director Michael Medaglia’s DEEP DARK is a twisted and dark examination of ethical boundaries and wish-fulfillment. While lacking in actual scares, DEEP DARK still manages to be both deeply disturbing, and depressingly heartwarming at the same time.
The center of the film is Hermann (Sean McGrath) a failing artist whose greatest creation is his self-delusion of anything relating to artistic talent. After a horrible gallery, Hermann is given two weeks to create something spectacular for local gallery owner Devora Klein (Anne Sorce). Looking for inspiration Hermann moves into his successful Uncle’s former studio apartment, where he discovers a strange, sultry talking hole in the wall (voiced by Denise Poirier) with the power to make his dreams reality.
Through a partnership with this mysterious entity, Hermann quickly gets everything he’s ever desired: wealth, acclaim, and, of course, the girl. However, Hermann will soon learn that the entity has needs of its own, which quickly begins to unravel everything Hermann wanted.
Leading the film is Sean McGrath, who brings the appropriate level of vulnerability and desperation to Hermann. His performance brings a sorrowfulness into every scene, which makes his success, albeit brief, feel rewarding and heartwarming. As for the rest of the cast there’s really not much to say. Sorce’s Klein starts off as an empowered business women, but devolves into a potential love interest due to the power of the hole. This isn’t to say that the supporting cast is bad, but the film’s premise prevents these characters from any real material.
However, the film truly comes into its own when it’s just Hermann and the entity. Their relationship starts of amicable, but quickly escalates to one of master-and-slave. The docile tones of Denise Poirier play off McGrath’s vulnerability well, and mixed with some smart sound editing and mystique creates a fully realized character on her own. This becomes especially apparent during the “wish granting” moments, which bares a terrifying resemblance to childbirth.
Much like Spike Jonze’s HER, the idea of a relationship between human and non-human is raised, yet with wildly different result. HER provided a much more optimistic feel, but here Director Michael Medaglia fills each scene with a general uneasiness. Beautiful yet enclosed set design add to the tightly knit madness, which occasionally can’t help but indulge itself in its own insanity. Medaglia’s tight camera work helps keep the film’s tone throughout, but not without hurting the pacing a little.
DEEP DARK is not without its share of problem. The film is a little slow to start, underutilized its supporting cast, and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Yet it still is an immensely entertaining film that utilizes its interesting premise to constantly build upon a feeling of dread. While not the most standard horror film, its small-time scared will keep your skin crawling throughout.
DEEP DARK is available on VOD and streaming on November 10.