There is something special about glancing briefly at a synopsis of a movie and solely making a decision to jump in on the film based on what the PR team decides to compare the film to. Reading that a film “puts a unique spin on subterranean horror films like The Descent (2005) and As Above, So Below (2014)” is a selling point if I’ve ever heard one. However, seeing both of these films, and being less in love with The Descent as its general fan fare, I don’t think anything could’ve prepared me for Grégory Beghin’s Deep Fear. Now, to be fair, what I consider to be a twist, or at most a surprise, is absolutely in the plot description on both IMDB and Fantastic Fest’s website. I didn’t read them which made for such a more disturbing, interesting, and creepy film. This review is going to refrain from giving away that surprise.
There is a group of friends consisting of Sonia (Sofia Lesaffre), Max (Kassim Meesters) and Henry (Victor Meutelet), who is about to join the military. After a night of heavy drinking, celebrating their friend, and giving him a night he will surely never forget, Sonia meets up with drug dealer/catacomb enthusiast, Ramy (Joseph Olivennes), as she asks him to give her friends a tour of the Paris catacombs, which are closed off to the public. What creepier thing to do before dedicating your life to the service than entering some restricted catacombs and exploring the deep dark secrets they hold within. What the groups does encounter deep down in the catacombs is something no one could ever expect, creating a world of tense terror that will have genre fanatics smiling ear to ear with the madness that unfolds throughout Deep Fear.
Nicholas Tackian, who wrote Deep Fear, proves that his first time writing a feature filled with anxieties, fears, horrors, and absolute madness is an incredible feat. His script takes an almost complete 180 degree turn approximately half way through the film, taking this tense claustrophobic drama into genre territory and delivering absolute anarchy of suspense, terror, and madness. With this turn, not only is Deep Fear taken past the creepy, tense world of unsafe catacombs, but it brings forth something no one can see coming and provides an absolute remarkable result.
When a movie boasts an ensemble, everyone in said ensemble needs to be able to work together and be able to play off one another to enhance each others’ performances, creating a world for the audience to sink their teeth into. Thankfully, Sofia Lesaffre, Kassim Meesters, Victor Meutelet, and, to an extent, Joseph Olivennes, all manage to bring their A-Game and help build this world of epic proportions, creating something that will be added to everyone’s October watchlist and that will become a fan favorite. All four of these actors bring something to their character, even if they’re typically cliches in the writing. You have the military bro, the nerd, the party girl, and then the navigator. These are all roles that have been used and done in films multiple times before. However, the facts that they make these roles their own, they stand out from the crowd and they share such great chemistry between all four of them, are what make their story and their journey that much more captivating for the audience.
Deep Fear boasts an original concept magnified by some terrific performances and is fully finished with some great direction. The only downfall behind Deep Fear may be in the marketing itself, and the way the movie is being described. So, avoid the links, avoid the descriptions, and strap yourself in for one hell of a ride that will leave genre fans hollering with joy and excitement.
Screening during Fantastic Fest 2022.
For more information, head to the official Deep Fear Fantastic Fest webpage.
Final Score: 4 out of 5.