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“The Deeper You Dig”/”The Hatred” Blu-Ray review

By Dark Starr

So, you say you like movies that are dark and deeply artistic? Well, then the new Arrow Video double disc Blu-Ray set of "The Deeper You Dig" might be for you. There are two movies in the set, both coming from more or less the same creative team. They are both highly artistic, stylistic and dark. They are both to some degree horror films, and are being promoted as such. 

The people involved are working under the name Wonder Wheel Productions, but it's actually essentially one family operating as independent film-makers. The family consists of the father John Adams, mother Toby Poser and daughters Lulu and Zelda Adams. Three of them work on the main film, while all four are on the bonus movie "The Hatred," with Poser behind the camera on that one. It should be noted that John Adams is credited as "John Law" in "The Hatred." 

I should really clarify some of those points, though, because it can be a little confusing. "The Hatred" is technically credited to Kid Kalifornia Productions, while the production company on "The Deeper You Dig" is Wonder Wheel Productions. Looking into more details, though, you'll see why I consider them to be essentially the same. 

For the 2018 film ("The Hatred") the director, producer, music and writing credits all go to John Law. Remember that's John Adams working under a different name, in much the same way that I write under the "Dark Starr" name at this site. The entire family get credits as camera operators on that film.  Zelda Adams and John Adams (as Law) are the two lead actors in the film, while Lulu is also seen on camera in a lesser role. 


Compare that to "The Deeper You Dig," which is actually credited as Wonder Wheel Productions.  John Adams and Toby Poser both share writing and directing roles on the film.  Poser is the producer, and John Adams does the music.  The trio of lead characters are played by John Adams, Toby Power and Zelda Adams, and all three of them also worked as camera operators on the movie. 

While I wouldn't go so far as to say that the movies represent opposite sides of the same coin, in a continuum that has pure art on one side and pure story telling on the other, "The Hatred" sits much closer to the art side, while "The Deeper You Dig" is more of the story-telling variety. 

The two movies tread a lot of shared territory. For one thing, there is a theme of vengeance or at least retribution from beyond the grave to them. There are family connections in the story that make sense given the nature of the team creating the films. Both have abstract, dream-like sequences that showcase the artsy side. 

"The Hatred" takes place in the 1800s, apparently just a short time after the Civil War. A young girl (Zelda Adams) who lost her family to a group of lost soldiers and a re-animated man (John Adams/Law) who was killed by that same group unite to extract their vengeance on them. Some comparisons to "Hang 'Em High" might be warranted, at least in the beginning. 

The movie is more of an allegory or morality play than it is a realistic story. None of the characters are called by name in the film, but they are credited as things like "Hatred" (Zelda Adam's character), "vengeance" (John Adams' character(, "gluttony," "judgment" and similar things. 

"The Hatred" works better on a visual level than on a level of weaving a tale. It seems that everything that happens is almost pre-determined and simply following a path. Perhaps symbolically a lot of the movie shows people walking. 

When it comes to "The Deeper You Dig," the era is our modern world. The story introduces a mother (Toby Poser) and daughter (Zelda Adams). When John Adams' character kills the daughter, the lines between the world of the living and that of the dead begin to blur. The killer and the mother become drawn together in unusual ways, too. 


I honestly can't say which movie of the two I find to be more compelling. I like them both for different reasons. I mean, one is more of a piece of visual and auditory art, while the other is more of a powerful and unusual story. Both of them lose me at least a bit in some of the more abstract scenes. Yet, my overall impression is that these are movies that will be a part of my life for years to come. They are that effective for me. 

This collection from Arrow includes both movies and some extras. "The Deeper You Dig" features a number of interview and other features, some music videos and more. "The Hatred" includes its own music videos as bonus materials. I really like these movies a lot. I'm even more glad to have been introduced to the existence of their creators. I expect great things from them in the future, and they have a wealth of older stuff from me to explore. (Note from Dr. Mality...Make sure you get "The Hatred" movie from 2018, as there was another film with the same name made in 2017 that is completely different...and nowhere near as good).