OPINION / FILM REVIEW – “The Deep House” marks the meeting between two settings well known to horror lovers: a haunted house and the aquatic depths. A concept worth the detour?
The Deep House : Dark Water
After tackling a horror myth with Leatherface, prequel of the essential Chainsaw Massacre by Tobe Hooper, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo return with a nightmare born in their minds. And the tandem here completely puts aside the frills and heaviness of the screenplay of their previous film, which he had not signed and which was laboriously anchored in the mythology of the Sawyer family.
The duo behind Inside and In the eyes of the living amounts to a clean story, which does not prevent him from being ambitious, quite the contrary. The very concept of The Deep House calls out to the difficulty of making such a project a reality, and can only intrigue fans of the genre. The feature film takes the viewer into the heart of Tina and Ben’s journeys, played by Camille Rowe and James Jagger. The couple ventured into abandoned places in Europe, hoping to get their YouTube channel specializing in urban exploration off the ground when they returned to the United States.
While in the south of France, Tina and Ben hear abouta haunted house located at the bottom of a lake. Equipped for diving, videographers are immediately drawn to this unique place, convinced that it could allow them to break through. They are far from imagining that once inside the house, they will find themselves trapped.
Fear as the driving force of the story
The Haunted House is one of the most redundant settings in horror cinema, so it can deliver the best (The Devil’s House, The Others) as the worst (The Gate of Secrets). If they are more rarely exploited, the submarine depths have also been invested on numerous occasions, ofAbyss at Leviathan, through the recent Underwater.
By linking these environments, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo propose a new and exciting concept. Before revealing the secrets of their home, the writers and directors very quickly raise the stakes, starting with the personalities of Ben and Tina. The first is in search of success and convinced that he will meet it by giving spectacular to his subscribers. Less self-centered and focused on material considerations than her companion, the second despite everything lets herself be drawn into her delusions for love. Character traits that will be decisive for their development over the course of the film.
Following a brief but crucial meeting, the descent into hell begins. And as the effective trailer for The Deep HouseUnveiling the mysteries of this strange property would obviously risk spoiling the pleasure, or rather a few cold sweats. Because the filmmakers play on several fears until the appearance of the final credits. Claustrophobia, the inability to breathe due to lack of oxygen and envelopment in darkness: Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo focus on the anxiety-inducing atmosphere and minimize the jump scare. The most chilling planes are those where bodies float and stagnate in space, where the heaviness of the water reduces them to slowness or even immobility, and not those where elements appear.
The House of the Damned
If he sometimes suffers from a hazardous interpretation, The Deep House benefits from’extremely well thought out artistic direction. The architecture of the house is always at the service of history. The more the two characters go into the depths of the house, the more evil appears. Places teeming with macabre decorations and objects, which gradually appear as clues to the true nature of what is becoming an evil prison for the protagonists.
To highlight it and exploit its full potential, the film avoids being satisfied with the images of the cameras used by Tina and Ben. It thus honors the work of Jacques Ballard, chief operator specializing in aquatic scenes and having worked on Birth of octopuses, Chrysalis or The Emperor of Paris. The visibility is most of the time total, far from the visual porridge ofUnderwater.
Finally, the other major asset of The Deep House is its suffocating end, and in particular the final shots which plunge the viewer into the immensity of the depths. As was the case for Inside and In the eyes of the living, Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo manhandle their characters to the end. They opt once again for a radicality consistent with the rest of the film, and therefore pleasing.
The Deep House by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, in theaters on June 30, 2021. Above the trailer. Find all our trailers here.