Thursday 21 March 2024

Lovely Dark & Deep (2023)



"Ambitious Beyond Its Means"


And that's being kind. Writer-director Teresa Sutherland seems to be going for a 'Benson & Moorhead meets Arthur Machen' vibe with LOVELY DARK AND DEEP, (now getting a UK digital release from Blue Finch). Unfortunately it's an attempt that falls flat and will leave most viewers confused, not at all helped by a third act that tries to go for 'weird and enigmatic' but instead will only confuse some and annoy others.



Georgina Campbell is Lennon, who has just taken up a post as a park ranger in a US National Park where so many people have apparently gone missing it's hard to believe anyone is ever allowed to go hiking there. 



Her sister who disappeared there many years ago, and Lennon plans to use the job as an opportunity to search for her. She sets off into the lovely and welcoming sunlit forest which at no point feels anything other than just that. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT gave us a forest no-one would want to spend an hour in, whereas here there's never any sense that Lennon's trip is anything other than a lovely walk in the woods.



There's mention of someone recently having disappeared. Lennon finds her. Or does she? Because as the film goes on we become less and less sure of anything Lennon experiences. Rather than this being suspenseful and disorientating, it's actually terribly difficult to care about any of what's happening. There are frequent shots of the forest she might be trapped in, which looks like a lovely place where you might want to holiday there yourself. The ending leaves you trying to piece things together that make no sense, but in the worst way. Ambiguity in this kind of narrative is fine, utter confusion is not. 



Teresa Sutherland was also responsible for writing 2019's THE WIND, which I described as either a very slow measured piece or really rather boring depending on your point of view. LOVELY DARK AND DEEP isn't boring, but it misfires on a number of levels that may leave you questioning if it was worth the time you devoted to watching it. Here's the trailer:




LOVELY DARK AND DEEP is out on Digital from Blue Finch on Monday 25th March 2024


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