“Rosemary’s Baby with Tentacles”
Horror thriller H.P. Lovecraft’s The Deep Ones is new on DVD and VOD.
The title “H.P. Lovecraft’s The Deep Ones” might suggest that the new film directed by Chad Ferrin is an adaptation of one of the renowned horror writer’s tales, but rather than being based on any particular story, The Deep Ones draws reference to Lovecraft’s mythos. More specifically, that of the Deep Ones, an ancient race of fish-like humanoids that live in the depths and worship Cthulhu and Dagon, most notably in Lovecraft’s The Shadow Over Innsmouth.
Still reeling from the loss of their child a few years ago, Alex (Gina La Piana) and her husband Petri (Johann Urb) retreat to a seaside bed & breakfast for a much needed getaway. But rather than melting their cares away, they get pulled into the bizarre drama of their hosts (Robert Miano and Silvia Spross) and the close-knit community of local kooks and weirdos who engage in increasingly blatant and threatening cultlike behavior.
Alex’s paranoia increases as she experiences terrifying dreams and uncomfortable encounters, but most dishearteningly a sense of disengagement from Petri, who seems to be getting along swimmingly with the neighbors and doesn’t share her feeling of great dread.
The film is clearly influenced by Rosemary’s Baby as much as it is by the work of Lovecraft (a point readily acknowledged in the DVD’s featurettes), really right up to the point where it’s basically a recontextualized remake, at least in the same sense that Battle Beyond the Stars is a remake of Seven Samurai with space cowboys, or Barb Wire is a remake of Casablanca in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The Deep Ones is Rosemary’s Baby with tentacles.
I found that this movie worked quite well, especially considering it as a relatively low-budget film trying to channel Lovecraft — a very difficult task to pull off, even for a big studio picture. The film is bolstered by a music score from genre veteran Richard Band, who mostly takes a subtle, ambient approach but jumps in and ratchets up the tension and action for key scenes.
This film had the potential to come off as corny or insincere, but I enjoyed the four key cast members and felt they embodied their characters really effectively without going to camp. La Piana and Urb feel instantly attractive and likeable as the vacationing couple, while Miano and Spross are duly charming and threatening in turn as their manipulative hosts. (Some of the other casting gets a little odd, so it’s good that these four were so well realized).
The movie does let on quite early how there’s some really malicious stuff going on, which is perhaps the biggest “decision” on the approach that differentiates it from Rosemary’s Baby. We were always guessing whether Rosemary’s paranoia was real or delusional, but there’s no question of it here. It removes a certain element of mystery, but on the other hand makes the threat more real by giving the audience more information than our protagonists.
I was provided with a DVD copy of the film for review. The DVD has great looking artwork (notably a much better design than most DTV fare) and my copy included a slipcover.
Special Features and Extras
“Grimmfest Featurette” (7:44) — hosted by Preston Fassel, this party interview with cast and crew members was conducted as a web conference call but the finished edit is set to behind the scenes footage illustrating the conversations.
The Making of The Deep Ones (15:51) — Behind the Scenes featurette breaks down several key scenes, including a look at how some of the practical effects were achieved.
Deleted Scenes (36:54) — This is a pretty interesting selection of deleted and alternate scenes; they cut out some really weird stuff, most notably the expanded intro. (Note the runtime — over half an hour!).