The Deep House
It's hard to overstate just how influential H.P. Lovecraft is more than 100 years after his death. I'm talking about horror in general. From literature, obviously, I mean, Stephen King owes a lot of his career to Lovecraft. And movies, some of the best movies are considered Lovecraftian. The man practically invented the genre of weird fiction. What I mean by that pretty much you can throw anything against the wall and see what sticks, the weirder the better. So let's talk about a lesser-known movie I found while streaming. It's called...
The Deep House (2021)
One of H.P. Lovecraft's most famous quotes is "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." It's hard to argue that. With that in mind, his stories often revolved around that idea and mostly ended with someone understanding why it's better to not know then come to know the horrifying truth, because things rarely worked out in any of his stories.
The movie follows a couple, an American and a Brit who explore abandoned buildings on Youtube. The boyfriend, Ben, played by James Jagger, the son of legendary rocker Mick Jagger, finds out about a building underwater in France that is sure to get them all the clicks, all of them. But when Ben and Tina get to the lake, it's filled with locals and tourists playing in the water. He then spends a bit sulking at the wasted time. While he begrudgingly agrees to forget about it and just enjoy their time at the lake, Ben comes across an older man named Pierre. Pierre tells them about an isolated part of the lake that was artificially flooded to prevent worse flooding and there's an intact mansion at the bottom.
Naturally Ben is on board but Tina has to be convinced. Despite her misgivings with the trip and the way Pierre keeps leering at her she agrees. After a drive, then a long walk, they finally arrive at the spot and dive in. Once they're in the water they realize Pierre was telling the truth about the place, but he left out a whole lot!
I love the idea of this movie so much. These people are underwater at the bottom of a lake so immediately the stakes are about as high as they can possibly be for two people. The oxygen supply is a constant issue, especially when the house refuses to let them leave and knowing that a single moment of carelessness could cost them their lives.
For a while they're just swimming around the house and it's just such a unique atmosphere watching them get around. The movie switches through different cameras a lot, you get the found footage stuff from the cameras attached to their helmets, you have their underwater drone and then there's your normal camera shots too. I much prefer this to the found footage style of filming. You can have your hectic shots but still allow your viewers to actually focus on something.
Eventually the couple realizes they're in a lot of trouble when the way they came in is covered by a brick wall that wasn't there before. Then they find out that no matter how hard they smash on the glass, the windows aren't breaking or scratching. They're trapped inside this house. To make matters worse they find a secret room and two bodies chained up, perfectly preserved despite being underwater for a very long time. Then things get even worse again when those bodies wake up and start chasing them around.
The chase scenes are a lot of fun because they're different. The entire chase being a swim while their pursuers seem to float adds a new wrinkle and something new'ish to what you've seen thousands of times before. I really enjoyed watching them try to get away because they're incredibly tense moments. Now, eventually they learn the history of those chasing them and that of the house and how Pierre set them up. Outside of knowing he was a baddie because I've watched horror movies before, the movie makes it obvious in the beginning when he says his family motto is "That is not dead which can eternal lie." Which we ALL know the end of that Lovecraft quote is "and with strange aeons, even death may die."
The movie does tension really well and at times you feel yourself getting closer to the end of your seat. The visual of the man and the woman chained up in the basement floating in the water is really good and the way they chase after our two heroes is creepy in all the right ways. But the problem with this type of movie is finding a way to tie everything together and it kind of felt like the worst part of the Silent Hill movie where they don't know how to explain everything near the end so they just throw it right in your face. I really didn't think it was necessary either, we could tell these people were bad, I think it would have been more effective to let us fill in the blanks.
The ending though, it's as big a gut punch as you can expect in a movie like this, but I didn't hate it. It was telegraphed a bit at the beginning and hammered home a little more in a later conversation. Still, it's difficult to watch and the movie almost gleefully shows you a camera shot letting you know the struggle is in vain. It's sad but an incredibly effective way to show it.
There's also an end credit scene where we find Pierre bringing another group of intrepid explorers to the mansion, which is just silly. When you think about all the things that had to fall into place to get Ben and Tina to take this trip and then find another couple right after? Come on movie, don't do that. You're better than that.