Review by Dan Skip Allen
Many Americans overlook Australian films, but in the past, Australia has developed some pretty good movies that have transcended expectations, like The Square, Animal Kingdom, and The Rover, and become hits over here in the states. I don't think Into the Deep will become one of those films Americans will devour and talk about.
One of Jess's (Ella-Rae Smith) parents died in a tragic car accident a few years before the events of this film. She is just trying to forget that incident, but she can't. She still lives with her father, but they have a strained relationship. She passes her time working at a clothing shop with her friend Emi (Nikktta Chadha) and going out to a beach bonfire to dance and drink the night away. When she sees a man who perks into the shop and proceeds to walk away, she chases after him and introduces herself to him. He does the same and says his name is Ben (Matthew Daddario) and accepts her invitation.
After an incident with a fellow party-goer, Daddario's character decides to take Smith's character on a tour of his boat on the wharf. She is a bit taken back because of her previous history of her mother's drowning. She reluctantly agrees to come aboard the boat and enjoys her time with this mysterious stranger. She passes out due to too much alcohol, and when she wakes up, they are completely out to sea. While out at sea, a woman rides up to the boat on a jet ski. She's cut, and they try to attend to her head wound. However, there may be more to this woman's story than it seems.
This film tries to be a movie with a mystery thriller vibe. Kate Cox, the director, creates an interesting vibe based on David Beton's script. The camera work in the film is a little in your face, but it looks very good on screen. A lot of filmmakers like close-up shots, but they more than often don't work as much. This film has quite a few close-up shots, and they look good combined with the rest of the camera work. The cinematography is colorful and combines well with the other things the director does. It's one of the better aspects of the film.
There is a disconnect between the script and the dialogue the actors utter in the film. It seems a bit robotic coming from the three leads. They do the best they can, though. It's a bit tough to listen to for about forty-five minutes of this ninety-one-minute runtime. Not having heard of these actors before, all I can think of is this is one of, if not the first, films they've starred in. It was easy to tell they were newcomers.
The film has a lot of deceit and lies that it asks the viewer to believe but hasn't given us the verification that it deserves to get our investment in these characters. I didn't care about what was happening, even when the characters started explaining their motivations. The lead actress just wasn't good enough in this role, and I wished I liked her more. Most of these characters were unlikeable. I know that's a harsh assessment, but I didn't care about any of the lead characters on the boat.
Cox and Benton have developed a film that has some merits to it. They just cast actors who can't deliver on what, at first glance, is a quality idea. It wasn't executed to the level it needed for this film to succeed. The dialogue came across as delivered by a robot, and this good idea is wasted. In a world of men and women who do questionable things while drinking and doing drugs, this film could have had a good message that merited this film. We need these types of films to let people know about these types of predators that are out there everywhere. Alas, it didn't work for me.
Into the Deep hits theaters and VOD on August 26.