A fantastically effective horror, The Deep House works on your fears of being underwater with limited oxygen and amplifies it tenfold with a haunted house. As fresh as it comes, this isn’t one to miss.
Tina and Ben are YouTubers who travel to explore a house lost at the bottom of a lake and share their experience on social media. Unfortunately, what is initially a unique find turns into a nightmare when they learn that the house was once the scene of atrocious crimes. Trapped, with their oxygen reserves falling dangerously low, they soon discover they aren’t alone in the house.
As someone with a fear of water taller than I am, The Deep House was already a film that would work me into a big ball of tension. Then finding out that it was made by the duo (Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury) of the excellent Inside and Kandisha, then you know you are in for an experience. However, what strikes you most about The Deep House is its original setting. Sure, we have had haunted ghost ships or great films about being alone on a body of water, but to combine the two and have an underwater haunted house endeavour is something I am sure a thousand writers have since hit themselves on the head and said, ‘of course!’.
By moving events underwater, tension immediately starts for the audience. These two people only have an hour of oxygen in their tanks, and that is if they are breathing normally. Normally we would think that if our characters had to escape a house, they could just run out and be clear of any danger in no time. But here in The Deep House, not only is oxygen a worry but also speed. Anyone who has tried to move at speed in the water with diving gear will tell you that you are not going to dash off like Michael Phelps if danger comes around a corner. Never mind having to open doors or move objects in your way. You are already limited in what you can do. Even thinking about all this as if it is a normal excursion has you tensed up.
What is so well done here by writers Bustillo, Maury and Rachel Parker is timing. We know that the duo has that 60 minutes of air, so when they begin their dive, how long is left? Just under 60 minutes. Having the events occur as close to real-time as possible is excellent; we get the chance to feel as if the characters are on a countdown to either their doom or freedom. Also, there has been a wise choice to keep the story streamlined and not overwhelm the audience with too much. It is already a dreadful situation, and throwing endless scares and horrors at our two characters would be too much.
The Deep House is not afraid to allow our characters to fall for the usual tropes that other haunted house films have done before. But, seriously, in what world, even if you are wanting to be a famous content creator, would you open a door that has been closed over thanks to a life-sized model of Christ on the cross? You would give out a big nope and go the opposite way. Not here, though, and once they do go into that part of the house, the true scare of The Open House comes to the fore.
Experienced underwater cinematographer Jacques Ballard does his best to make us feel that everything we see is from the cameras that Tina and Ben brought down. With the handy underwater drone Tom, we can get shots that shouldn’t really be there, but you accept them. When things go awry, and chaos begins, it feels real; seeing the panicked eyes and flapping limbs has a lump in your throat form. What lets it down here a touch is the excessive cuts in such moments. If some shots stayed a little longer, they would be even more impactful. However, the film has us with everything we are seeing, so to have so many quick cuts in the frantic moments is unnecessary.
Regardless of that, the imagery is what locks you into the film, every penny their budget (under $5 million) is there on the screen and utilised to perfection. Also, it needs to be remembered after seeing the film that everything is practical, and Hubert Pouille does something special here in delivering what we see throughout the movie. Without a doubt, the set piece is one of the main attractions you get from the film and makes you impressed with how it was all pulled off.
If like me, you have a fear of open water, The Deep House will cement one thing in your mind. You are never going to go diving. A great film that, while keeping the scares and story simple, endeavours to make what is there as tension-inducing and frightening as possible.
As The Deep House is getting released on Blu-ray and DVD, it is a touch disappointing that there are no special features to speak of, but with luck down the line, we will get something as the production making alone would be worth the extra purchase.
Dazzler Media presents The Deep House on Blu-ray and DVD from 31st October.
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