Arrow Video: The Deeper You Dig & The Hatred (2018 - 2019) - Reviewed

You’ve probably never heard of the Adams Family filmmaking group, and no they have nothing to do with a famous TV show or two hit movies with the late Raul Julia.  No, this Adams Family consists of director/actor John Adams, his co-director/actress/wife Toby Poser and their actress/daughter Zelda Adams.  Together they’ve formed two of the more original forays into rustic Southern Gothic with their 2018 short film The Hatred and a year later the feature length slow burn creeper The Deeper You Dig.  Paired together for the first time by Arrow Video in a new two-disc blu-ray set, The Hatred and The Deeper You Dig represent two wintry snowy chillers fraught with murder, revenge and just a touch of unfinished business tinged with elements of the supernatural.

In both films, the main character is played by John Adams himself with his daughter Zelda more or less playing the same character in each film: a clairvoyant who bears an eerie kinship with the supernatural.  Beginning with The Hatred, a microbudget Blackfoot territory effort set in the waning days of the Civil War, a young girl finds her family murdered by deserters.  Burning with the need for revenge, she summons the forces of vengeance in the form of a recently executed soldier resurrected from the noose upon which he was hung.  Together, they set out into the snow-covered forests of the countryside to wreak bloody havoc and avenge the girl’s loss of her family.
Running only an hour, this bloody and violent tale of supernatural vengeance establishes early on the Adams Family’s penchant for the metaphysical with emphasis on nature’s uneasy balance with inexplicable forces in the universe.  The ideas of conjuring up the dead back into the world of the living are indeed science fiction but in the world of The Hatred it comes as natural as waking up in the morning.  Much of this is emphasized by the film’s scenic wide shots shot by the family members at different intervals of the snow-covered hills and plains.  Then there’s the echoey reverberating atonal score rendered by John Adams himself, with sounds so eerie it is likely to give you goosebumps. 

All of this of course was a dress rehearsal for the real enchilada which came in the form of their feature film The Deeper You Dig, a suspenseful creeper about a clairvoyant mother named Ivy (Toby Poser) who lives alone with her daughter Echo (Zelda Adams).  One night Echo goes sledding down the hills, only to crash into a vehicle driven by the drunken Kurt (John Adams) to her death.  Fearing incarceration, Kurt proceeds to hide the body in between renovating his house.  Soon however, these three characters will intersect again as the thinly veiled barrier between the living and the afterlife begins to fold upon itself. 

Far more fully fledged and engaging than The Hatred which at times threatened to meander in atmospherics, The Deeper You Dig while stumbling somewhat in the third act is a taut mixture of the metaphysical and the shockingly gory with more than a few hints at demonic possession.  This time around, the tension is much greater with the perpetrator of a horrific crime living just down the road from the victim’s mother.  As with The Hatred however, this is from the ground up a family affair with Toby Poser, John and daughter Zelda Adams doing everything in front of and behind the camera.  Makeup effects are much more developed this time around and the film plays more loosely with the rules of forces beyond our comprehension.

Though neither film necessarily proved to be a home run with me, these two films represent a unique chapter in the Southern Gothic subgenre and the emergence of a truly interesting introduction of bona fide homegrown talent.  That everyone involved onscreen is as fully invested in these productions as they are offscreen is kind of inspiring and oddly heartwarming to consider.  There’s a genuinely unique flavor to this kind of deeply southern fried rural horror clearly made with love from a new and promising filmmaking family.  I may have been lukewarm to both films but there’s no denying this group as a fresh voice in contemporary indie horror.

--Andrew Kotwicki