Herman Haig (Sean McGrath) feels the only thing he truly excels at in life is creating art. It’s to the point where he won’t even look for a job and his mother must rely on others to pay rent. The problem, however, is that Herman is oblivious to his lack of skill. His mobiles look terrible, and fail to impress time and time again at art exhibits. When given the opportunity to astound critically acclaimed art dealer Devora Klein (Anne Sorce), he botches the introduction so horribly that a hazmat crew is called in for damage control. His bad luck turns around, however, when he rents his successful uncle’s old apartment and discovers something within a hole in the wall promising to fulfill his greatest desires.
Whatever is in the hole is sentient. It first communicates with Herman by sending out written messages coiled around wire, but eventually speaks to Herman. Voiced by ÆON FLUX herself, Denise Poirier, the hole is a female being with wants and emotions, and she desperately wants company to soothe her loneliness. In return, she spits out grotesque balls of slimy tissue that Herman places in his sculptures. The change in his work is instantaneous and his art becomes the hottest new trend. Devora’s repulsion by him turns into lust. Although Herman’s life is changing for the better, the hole becomes more demanding.
While tales warning to be careful what you wish for is nothing new, Deep Dark gives the trope a new, deeply unsettling twist. The lengths Herman is willing to go for the sake of achieving his wildest wishes, and how far the hole is willing to exploit that, make for some extremely unnerving moments. The more entwined Herman becomes with the being, the stronger and stranger she grows.
Sean McGrath really sells Herman as the naïve, starving artist ignorant of his own shortcomings, and his earnest feelings toward the creature behind the hole is the core of the film. Sorce’s regal and ruthless turn as Devora makes for a good foil for the bizarre relationship between Herman and his muse. It’s Herman’s family that fall by the wayside, though. They exist as stepping stones to propel Herman forward in the story, and once that’s done they’re never mentioned again. The story isn’t about them, but it is a missed opportunity for some exposition as the uncle clearly sent his nephew to his apartment knowing what would a wait.
In fact, answers are irrelevant here. Though you will have many questions, explanation is often ignored in favor of focusing on the emotions between Herman and his muse, or Herman and Devora. Jealousy is an ugly beast, and the hole finds unique ways of feeding her jealous nature.
This micro budget film only conveys its limitations in moments of poor sound editing, usually in scenes where the set clearly has poor acoustics to begin with. Otherwise the deadpan humor and unsettling tone reminiscent of David Cronenberg body horror, coupled with well delivered performances by the leads, make for a truly bizarre experience. Herman covets his inhuman muse in a way that will make your skin crawl, and you may never look at starving artists quite the same way again. Minimalistic on exposition, but in your face on surreal emotion, Deep Dark takes an avant-garde approach to a well-worn trope.
Deep Dark [Review]
Deadpan humor and unsettling tone reminiscent of David Cronenberg body horror, coupled with well delivered performances by the leads, make for a truly bizarre viewing experience. Minimalistic on exposition, but in your face on surreal emotion, Deep Dark takes an avant-garde approach to a well-worn trope.