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John’s Horror Corner: The Deep House (2021), a French ‘haunted house’ movie… underwater.

May 10, 2022

MY CALL:  For me this was an interesting watch for reasons having nothing to do with the writing or horror, for which I did not care at all. Frankly, the “horror” aspects of this were boring and weak. Rather this is the movie you watch just to say you watched the “underwater haunted house” movie. And as it turns out, we enjoy a lot of really cool visuals. Just… none of them having to do with good horror.  MORE MOVIES LIKE The Deep HouseIf you have an itch for underwater horror (or creepy Sci-Fi) that was not scratched by this movie, then try Underwater (2020) or even The Abyss (1989).

As much as I like weird, different, unfamiliar horror movies, I was hesitant to place this high in my queue. Sure, director and writer team Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury (Leatherface, Inside, Livid, Kandisha) have a strong horror resumé, including some inspiringly brutal extreme French cinema. But in my head, I’m asking myself, how does an underwater haunted house work? Then I read Mark’s review, which does not rave about the haunted house or horror elements in any way, but shines brightly on the film’s non-horror strengths. So here I am watching… and I must admit that when their guide tells them to “just follow the stairs down” to the house, talking to two people treading water in scuba gear, you have my curious attention.

Social media explorers Tina (Camille Rowe; Cosmic Dawn) and Ben (James Jagger; Sound of Violence) travel Europe and record their adventures in creepy abandoned buildings, essentially “modern ruins.” One such trek in France leads them to a lake in the woods, at the bottom of which rests a “perfectly preserved house” from an historic flood. They are led by a harbinger-like character… but, as in The Cabin in the Woods (2012), he’s the type that wants you to go somewhere.

Early in their scuba-diving adventure we learn that Ben’s gadget game is strong, fish don’t care for death metal, and Tina is a rookie scuba-diver. The cinematography tickles your eyes—it’s so different looking from the visuals we expect or know as two divers in murky water approach… an iron-rod fence surrounding a crypt and a grand manor. It’s disorientingly weird because… they just swim over the fence and hover in front of the house. The shots are gorgeous. This alone makes the movie cool. (Mark assesses the photography in more detail)

Weak “surprise” fish, creepy floating doll jump scares, shadows playing tricks on us—the movie takes its time before anything visually substantial threatens Tina and Ben. But eventually, a more haunting presence becomes obvious.

In some ways, this film reminds me of faaaar less intense As Above, So Below (2014) as our divers spelunk deeper through the house finding one disturbing oddity after another, only to eventually find themselves trapped in a way that defies logic.

Really, as a horror movie, this is weak; very poor even. Brutally honest, I know. However, true movie buffs probably need to see this. Not necessarily horror buffs, but movie buffs. Those who enjoy good filmmaking as much as they enjoy good films. Because this film should truly please and entertain a movie buff simply by virtue of the CGI-less underwater shots throughout the film.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2022 8:05 pm

    Exactly!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 10, 2022 8:08 pm

      Your review definitely helped my experience with this film. Had I not been prepared with strongly adjusted expectations, I may have been too busy being unhorrified to properly notice this film for its treasures.

      • May 10, 2022 8:10 pm

        I’d rather watch a making of documentary instead. I love how they went big with sets and totally forgot to make anything scary. Still happy I watched it.

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