“The Deep Dark” (2023) [Nightmares Film Festival]

by Joseph Perry

Normally here at “The Good, the Bad, and the Verdict”, both Joseph and Mike give their thoughts on a slice of cinema. However, here and there they will be taking the reins in a solo outing. For this installment, it’s Joseph with a solo review of Mathieu Turi’s adventure/horror The Deep Dark, courtesy of Nightmares Film Festival.

Miners Roland Neville (Samuel Le Bihan), Louis (Thomas Solivérès), Miguel (Diego Martín), Polo (Marc Riso), Santini (Bruno Sanches) and Amir (Amir El Kacem) are forced to take a professor  (Jean-Hugues Anglade) underground with them to take samples for his measurements. After a landslide prevents them from going back up, they discover a crypt from another time, unknowingly waking up a bloodthirsty creature.

The Good
Lovecraftian horror films are arguably hotter than ever, and France checks in with The Deep Dark (Gueules Noires, 2023), which I found to be a highly entertaining and intriguing creature feature. The monster design is a blast — the eye test tells me that it seems to be practical effects, or at least largely so — and writer/director Mathieu Turi allows things to brew slowly earlier on so that we get to know at least a little about the characters, so that they are more than just fodder for kills. The performances are impressive, as is the set design of the 1950’s Moroccan mine. Plenty of tension and old-gods terror are on tap.

The Bad
Although, as I stated, we learn about the characters more than being just random lambs to the slaughter, unfortunately some are reduced to stereotypes, such as the foreigners, the heavy man, the jerk who everyone hates, and so on. 

The Verdict
With a goodly supply of patented French nihilism and super gore effects, The Deep Dark is must-see cinema for creature-feature buffs and Lovecraft aficionados. It’s certain to make some top 10 lists for best 2023 horror films — it’s definitely a candidate for mine — and honorable mentions in others.

The Deep Dark, from Fulltime Studio and Marcel Films, is playing as part of Nightmares Film Festival, which runs from October 26th–29th. For more information, please visit https://nightmaresfest.com/.

The Deep Dark
Directed By: Mathieu Turi
Written By: Mathieu Turi
Starring: Samuel Le Bihan, Amir El Kacem, Thomas Solivérès
Run Time: 1h 43m
Rating: NR
Release Date: 2023