The Deep House Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by Radar Films
Directed by Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury
Written by Alexandre Bustillo, Julien Maury, Julien David, Rachel Parker
2021, 85 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
UK Grimmfest Premiere on 9th October 2021
James Jagger as Ben
Camilla Rowe as Tina
Carolina Massey as Sarah Montegnac
Haunted houses in asylums; haunted houses on haunted hills; haunted houses that are hotels; haunted houses that are trenches in World War I Germany; if it’s a place, and you can go there, chances are that there’s a haunted house movie about it. Paul W.S. Anderson even put one in space. In The Deep House, directorial powerhouses Alexandre Bustillo and Julian Maury have added another location to the list – they put theirs underwater.
Fishing for clicks, urban explorers and minor YouTube personalities Ben (James Jagger, son of Mick) and Tina (Camilla Rowe) take to an isolated lake in rural France. There, beneath the murky waters, they find the surprisingly well-kept remains of an old house. Inside, they find bloated, floating dead bodies and a sinister secret. Submerged 50 metres below the water and with only 60 minutes of oxygen in the tank, Ben and Tina quickly find themselves in deep shit.
If the recent Kandisha felt like a departure from form for Bustillo and Maury (while also being a return to it, after the whole Leatherface debacle), then The Deep House is their most off-piste yet. Part found footage, part underwater thriller, the film more resembles The Blair Witch Project or As Above, So Below than it does their usual Euro-extremist output. After all, it’s hard to do bone-crunching violence and extreme gore when you’re 50 metres underwater. Still, The Deep House loses none of the pair’s trademark intensity. With Jagger and Rowe performing in diving gear, deep underwater, the stars’ discomfort is palpable. The fear and claustrophobia feels real and authentic and genuinely harrowing. Like The Descent, it's scary enough long before anything murderous turns up.
Shot by director of photography Jacques Ballard, the film achieves a sense of cinema verité that few found footage filmmakers have been able to achieve. It’s murky and dirty, and all kinds of discomforting, like the infamous Jaws jump scare, stretched out to feature length. A Bustillo and Maury haunted house is scary enough on its own – sticking the whole thing underwater turns it positively Lovecraftian. It’s a Conjuring movie buried under gallons of greenish ghost-infested water.
If this environment is hard for the characters to navigate, it’s almost as difficult for the viewer; the visuals as obfuscating as they are impressive. With Jagger and Rowe buried beneath layers of scuba gear, it can be difficult to connect with the characters – especially given the former’s stiff line deliveries and occasionally irritating narration.
None of which detracts from Bustillo and Maury having made one of the most unique haunted house movies in years. Fans of submerged scares and supernatural horror stories should find plenty to love in The Deep House – a truly bleak and transgressive work of aquatic horror from two modern masters of horror.
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