Take a deep breath
Welcome to Knockout Horror. Today we are reviewing underwater haunted house horror movie The Deep House. So this is a movie that straddles a few different horror sub-genres. Featuring a pair of social media influencers taking a trip into a submerged house. It acts as something of an old fashioned haunted house movie. Brought right up to date with some found footage elements and a social media horror theme. This movie has just appeared on Netflix in the UK. It is doing pretty well so we decided to check it out. Let’s take a look.
The Deep House follows the stories of Ben and Tina. The couple have a YouTube channel that focuses on haunted houses. Determined to seek out the scariest locations. The two of them travel around Europe filming their encounters with the paranormal. Having heard about a submerged sanitorium. Ben insists that they head to the south of France to check it out.
When they arrive, the location actually turns out to be a crowded vacation hot-spot. Determined to make something of the trip. Ben speaks to a local man called Pierre who claims he can help them. Guiding them to a hidden location. Pierre tells Ben and Tina of a house submerged in the lake. Enthusiastic, the couple head into the lake. A decision they may come to regret.
At its core. The Deep House is a fairly traditional haunted house horror movie. The major difference, however, is that much of the action takes place underwater. A tantalising prospect, perhaps? The idea of taking an old fashioned tale of ghosts and the paranormal. And setting it deep underwater. Complete with all the usual risks that come along with diving. Seems like a good one. The question is, how does it hold up? Well, the results are a little mixed. Something we will get into a little later.
Am I just imagining it or is found footage horror making a comeback? Obviously it is taking a bit of a more diverse form. But its hard to ignore the number of horror movies using the more DIY style, as of late. We had the lockdown horror hit Host from a couple of years ago. We checked out Followers a few days ago and Ghost Webcam the other week. Let’s not forget about the fantastic Deadstream from earlier this year, as well. There definitely seems to be more of these types of movies around.
I, personally, am quite a big fan of found footage. It is something of a guilty pleasure of mine. My fiancée and I have watched so many over the years. We used to go out of our way to find them. There’s just something a bit charming about the crappiness of it all. Even to this day we will seek out movies from the much maligned sub-genre.
That doesn’t mean to say that I am ignorant to the issues that come along with found footage. It is a presentation style that divides people right down the middle. Some hate the shaky camera and some people, rightly, accuse it of looking cheap. The scares aren’t always effective and the acting can, often, be quite wooden. The Deep House is only partly filmed in the found footage style. Much of it is filmed like a standard horror. It’s only when the characters venture into the abyss that the movie switches tone.
The Deep House also taps into another theme that has been rather common as of late. Social Media Influencer Horror. We have actually recently published a list of 12 social media themed horror movies. While not leaning into the social media stuff quite as heavily as Superhost or Sissy. The fact that our characters here are social media influencers. Actually provides the foundation of the story.
The whole reason our protagonists are venturing into the deep unknown is due to social media. The budding YouTubers have a growing channel. Focused on the crowded subject of the paranormal. As you may have noticed if you have ever followed this subject online. People who make videos on this topic face stiff competition. There is a growing demand to put out scarier content. Viewers want to see creepier places. They want to be more entertained and more frightened.
To achieve this, content makers are often willing to take greater risks. This is exactly what is happening with our characters here. They are taking a huge risk to explore a haunted house that nobody else can find. With it being under water, the risks are compounded even further. The pair will have to don diving gear and explore the house at tremendous risk to themselves. Naturally, this adds a whole new layer to the horror.
I can’t think of a great deal of horror movies that take place underwater. There are a couple, of course. 47 Meters down and its sequel come to mind. But it really isn’t a subject that is explored too much in horror. Naturally, much of this is down to logistics. Filming underwater is incredibly dangerous and that is without considering the expense. You are basically taking all of the problems of making a movie and multiplying them.
It’s a big risk and there are so many opportunities for things to go wrong. But, with risk comes reward. With all of the extra effort and logistical complications being considered. The result could be a horror movie with some truly unique scares. You could create something that is totally different from every other horror around. The question we have to ask is whether the risks taken in The Deep House pay off?
That’s a tough question to answer. The thing is; the movie feels, at least aesthetically, quite unique. The underwater location looks fantastic. The logistics of diving do add to the tension, as well. But, as a horror movie, The Deep House really doesn’t do anything new. There isn’t anything here that you wouldn’t see in any other haunted house themed movie. It feels very similar to other movies featuring protagonists roaming a haunted location. It just so happens that everything moves a little slower. Everything is a little more buoyant. It’s all a bit more damp and hazy.
Despite the actual underwater setting of The Deep House not adding a great deal to the scares. It is still a fairly effective haunted house horror movie. As mentioned above, this is a rather unique looking movie. It deserves praise simply for the technical aspects of the movie. You aren’t going to see too many films that look like this. Some of the diving elements add to the scares. There are some clever uses of diving tools to create tension. The ever present threat of running out of air is fairly unsettling, as well.
The movie shines most when it is simply playing out like a fair ground ghost train ride. Delivering one jump scare sequence after another. Characters slowly make their way through the dark and creepy looking house. They find horrifying things that hint at the location’s sordid past. They see things in the corner of their eyes and are spooked by shadows. It’s pretty effective stuff and very much what you would expect from this type of movie.
There isn’t a tremendous amount to get your teeth into here. The story is loosely developed. Offering only enough bite to give the characters a reason to explore the house. There is no sense of character development and little gravity to what is happening. It’s just enough story to keep the plot moving along. Just enough to get us to where we need to be. Stuck in a haunted house, 30 metres under the water.
There is almost a sleepover horror quality to The Deep House. The jump scares are very reminiscent of movies like Annabelle and the like. It’s easy to watch and doesn’t demand too much of the viewer. The pacing is fine and the movie manages to keep the horror going fairly consistently. I could see a group of teens really enjoying this. Laughing at their friends jumping at some of the obvious scares. Debating what is going on in the house. Laughing at how dumb the characters are. It’s just easy viewing, popcorn horror.
There is a place for this type of movie in the genre. Especially when it is included in your Netflix subscription. Some people have little interest in getting into some deep psychological horror. They just want something quick and easy to throw on and enjoy. I wouldn’t say The Deep House is in the upper echelon of popcorn horror. But it fits the bill. That does not, however, mean that it is without its issues.
The Deep House suffers from a few major issues. For one, its characters are fairly unlikeable and difficult to care about. There is so little character development here. Tina and Ben just come across as being a bit annoying. The dialogue is a massive problem, as well. Written by Alexandre Bustillo of the fantastic French New Wave horror movie Inside. With assistance from Rachel Parker and fellow director Julien Maury. This is a movie produced in English by writers from France. The result is dialogue that can feel very unnatural.
Tina’s tendency to use Frenglish can be rather annoying. It never feels anything other than forced. Ben talks like he may have lacked oxygen at birth. Speaking in a slow manner with basic, simple, sentences. It’s all a bit awkward and doesn’t flow very well. Not that this is a problem or a criticism. But Ben sounds a little like Apple from the kid’s show Apple and Onion. I couldn’t shake this thought for the entire movie. It kept making me chuckle.
The stilted and unnatural dialogue between the two characters. Becomes an especially noticeable issue later in the film. As soon as the pair are underwater, things get a lot worse. Their interactions feel even more prosthetic and the writing feels even more ridiculous. Tina has a tendency to yell repeatedly while Ben becomes even more annoying. Your best bet here is to block the characters out completely. There really isn’t anything to invest in here.
As mentioned above, this has all been done before. There are very few moments when The Deep House is anything other than predictable. You will likely see everything coming way in advance. Veteran horror fans will probably roll their eyes at the recycled scares. There is nothing new here outside of the presentation. On top of this, characters act in ridiculously stupid ways to facilitate the horror. This is an old fashioned horror trait. It feels particularly noteworthy here.
The Deep House is impressive to look at. It is also incredibly dark, at times, making it a tough watch. Some people will, likely, not enjoy the underwater presentation. For everyone else, you may find yourself struggling to see. Aside from everything being bathed in a deep blue hue. Some scenes are really poorly lit. Leading to the viewer having to strain their eyes to follow the action. This is, obviously, not a good thing. I also had this distinct sense that character faces were superimposed into the masks. The movie can look a bit goofy and a bit awkward, at times. Still, it is an impressive achievement and that bears mention.
Acting is pretty bad. Neither of these two really add anything of note to the movie. Again, it should be pointed out that the dialogue doesn’t help. The writing here is very basic and adds nothing to the characters themselves. They are, simply, a bit boring and lacking in personality. The acting doesn’t help, though. James Jagger, as Ben, has a very strange line delivery. It comes across as if he is reading from a teleprompter. It is very bizarre and doesn’t feel at all authentic. Robbing some scenes of their gravity, particularly towards the end.
Camille Rowe has a much more natural delivery. Not struggling to get her lines across. She tends to struggle a lot more with emoting. When your characters are wearing masks that cover much of their face. You really need them to emote heavily with their eyes. Rowe totally fails at this. Almost never managing to get across the fear her character should be feeling. She should be terrified but looks as if she couldn’t care less. It’s a bit disappointing to be honest. Again, these characters are already difficult to invest in. The actors here really don’t help that.
The Deep House is definitely not a knockout. It isn’t a movie completely lacking in enjoyment, though. At its heart, it is an old fashioned haunted house horror. Tacked on themes of social media. As well as the random found footage presentation add little. But the scenes featuring characters creeping around a scary house work well. If you are looking for an old fashioned horror. Easy to watch and not demanding too much of the viewer. You may find plenty to like with The Deep House.
If, however, you are looking for a well polished movie with tons of scares. You will likely be left disappointed. Poor writing and awful dialogue does nothing to help the poorly developed characters. There isn’t much to invest in and the acting can be very wooden. There is only enough story here to get to the horror stuff. It’s not going to draw you in with plot. Even the scares are fairly hit and miss. Feeling overly familiar and very predictable. Still, if you are looking for something easy to watch. This may fit the bill.
UK readers can check out The Deep House on Netflix right now. It has recently made its way to the streaming service and I checked it out on there. US readers can take a look at The Deep House on Amazon Prime. I believe it is included with your subscription.