Frightfest Glasgow: The Deep Dark (2024)

Director: Mathieu Turi

Running Time: 103 Minutes

Starring: Samuel LeBihan, Amir El Kacem, Jean-Hughes Anglade, Thomas Solivérès, Marc Riso, Bruno Sanches, Diego Martin, Philippe Torreton

Opening in 1856, miners are shown venturing deep within a coal mine to access a specific area by using dynamite. A resulting cave-in sees the group trapped within the subterranean depths, although it becomes clear another presence lurks within the darkness. The story then cuts to 1956, where the tenacious Amir (Amir El Kacem) is selected for work as a coal miner in France. He is ecstatic as the job pays well, although he is assigned to a mine known as Devil's Island - the location where anybody who messes up is assigned to as punishment.

Amir's hiring comes just as management bends to the whims of Professor Berthier (Jean-Hugues Anglade), who has the connections and money to ensure his desires shall be met. Berthier wishes to be personally escorted underground by veteran miner Roland (Samuel Le Bihan), in order to take samples and measurements. When a sudden landslide prevents the miners from surfacing, they are forced to face an ancient horror who craves blood.

What writer/director Mathieu Turi accomplishes is building a functioning system within this mine, breathing life into this world through small touches and the sense of everything having a place. This includes the importance of hooks, or how miners use rats to be aware of incoming danger. The cornerstone of this comes from early words shared by Roland, about there being no discrimination within the mines as everybody is down there to work.

Driven by the promise of well-paid work, Amir soon finds himself drained by the reality of his mining job. He does not want to cause trouble, merely wishing to get the job done, while becoming interested in the archeology as the team ventures further underground. Meanwhile, Roland's priority is looking after his men, and takes it to heart if he cannot protect any of the team working under him. This clashes with Berthier's priorities, who disregards warnings from the seasoned miners due to only caring about his discoveries. Of the remaining miners, Louis is the only other one that stands out due to how his every action inspires contempt from the audience.

As the team delivers further into the mine, they make discoveries which leaves them alternating between surprised and terrified for their lives. As the conversation leaves them questioning the sustainability of their jobs, the fears of losing their only source of income leaves some to make questionable decisions. While one particular action may be considered ill-fated and blinded by greed, their worries ring true to leave their actions as somewhat understandable.

What unfolds is a tense work that effectively uses darkness to the film's advantage, particularly during an effective sequence utilizing a camera flash. The practical effects impressively bring alive the gore and key creature, as those elements add to the well-crafted atmosphere. It is worth mentioning that this could have been more effective across a leaner runtime, particularly when some characters feel included to raise the body count. While the feature does invite comparisons to The Descent, The Deep Dark stands on its own feet and remains an effectively crafted feature.

The Deep Dark made its UK Premiere at Frightfest Glasgow