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  • Rev Horror

H.P. Lovecraft's The Deep Ones

Dir. Chad Ferrin (2020)

A couple renting a beach house for their anniversary find themselves in the grip of a cult that worships an ancient Sea God.

The beginning of what I suppose could be considered director Chad Ferrin's Lovecraft Trilogy, The Deep Ones is an interesting take on the Cthulu mythology as told in a modern day setting. Cosmic horror is incredibly difficult to do because so much of it depends on the imagination, which is not something that would normally be Ferrin's forte: he tends to show you what he wants you to see and very rarely reigns himself in with his storytelling. The Deep Ones, however, is Lovecraft via a communal cult, dealing far more with the evils of men than of the dark ones lurking beneath the surface of the ocean.

Couple Alex (Gina La Piana) and Petri (Johann Urb) take a vacation to a seaside estate for their anniversary. They are still reeling from Alex's recent miscarriage, but both hope to have children in the future despite being in their 40's. The house that they rented is owned by the elderly Russell (Robert Miano) and his younger, pregnant girlfriend Ingrid (Silvia Spross), and to say they're a bit eccentric would be an understatement. When the couple is invited to a strange dinner party filled with foreign-speaking people who are just as weird as the hosts, Alex and Petri must try to escape not only from the newly discovered cult but also from the God that they worship.

It is true that restraint is not particularly Ferrin's most noticeable quality, but that is not to say that it doesn't work in a film like this. It's altogether weird, which actually delivers this story a lot better than I expected. It's not dependent entirely on that cosmic quality that Lovecraft usually relies upon, which helps quite a bit. While there are undercurrents of the otherworldly, most of this is hinted at the peripherals (or, in one case, coming out of undergarments). The bizarre and macabre cult at the center of the story is pretty unnerving, and while it doesn't always make the most sense, it's hard to hold that against Ferrin when Lovecraft did it first.

The actors do a fine job in their roles, with Miano being delightfully creepy as the strange cult leader and La Piana playing the concerned and frustrated wife who feels she's losing her husband to the group. Jackie Debatin, who plays Alex's quirky friend Deb, provides the minimal comic relief needed for the film and a charming and personable way. Spross is perhaps even more creepy than Miano in her role, a hanger-on that feels very "mother of demons" while really underpinning the cult's dedication to providing offspring for their underwater Lord. Kelli Maroney is the disturbed and harried harbinger of the story, with her character's name Ambrose being a direct reference to Lovecraft's stories.

The score by Richard Band is excellent, a bit different than his normal Full Moon stuff and helping to establish an audible ambience that works perfectly in helping to ratchet up the tension in a film that rarely goes for tense. The cinematography is likewise well done, disorienting when it needs to be and well-framed when that's more preferable. It's a well-made film, and even if cosmic horror is not your thing (as it's usually not mine), it's an enjoyable film. Ferrin is one of my favorite indie horror directors because of his guts if nothing else, and kudos to him for giving Lovecraft a go. He does it better than most.

Who this movie is for: Cosmic horror lovers, Lovecraft fans, Expecting mothers

Bottom line: The Deep Ones is a pretty good Lovecraftian story with a creepy cult and some references to classic horror lit. Director Chad Ferrin does a good job with the source material, though he admittedly strays heavily from its intent, and he delivers a film that is at once creepy and darkly humorous. This tracks, as its basically his specialty as a filmmaker, but it translates very well to a genre that I didn't expect him to take on, especially not as well as he does. This one is streaming on Tubi, and if you're a fan of indie horror or cosmic creeps, I definitely recommend giving it a shot.

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