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DEEP FEAR (aka BUNKER 717, 2022)
Directed by Grégory Beghin.
Written by Nicolas Tackian.
Starring Blaise Afonso, Olivier Bony, Toussaint Colombani, Léone François-Janssens, Sofia Lesaffre, Kassim Meesters, Victor Meutelet, Joseph Olivennes, Philippe Résimont
Three tourists go to Paris for their graduation and pay an urban explorer to take them on a trip through the catacombs under the city. Once in the underground maze, they find themselves lost with a gang of Neo-Nazis after them, and an ancient evil lurking in the shadows.
While the setting is quite familiar if you’ve seen films like CATACOMBS and AS ABOVE SO BELOW, I found myself intrigued by the chills and thrills DEEP FEAR delivers. Not only does it highlight the truly claustrophobic nature of dithering around in these tunnels under the city, but the film also adds the menace of a gang of skinheads and an actual relic, still living and waiting to be reactivated since World War II. These menaces keep on compounding as the film goes on. This film also reminded me of BARBARIAN in a way in that you never knew what kind of horror was going to pop out of the darkness down one of the dark halls next. That unpredictability is both appreciated and admired as this has been a setting for horror films before, but never in exactly this way. For that kind of originality, I tip my hat to DEEP FEAR.
The sustained action and suspense really makes for a swiftly moving film once the trio enter the catacombs. This occurs quite early in the film, so the bulk of DEEP FEAR crackles with energy in places where most film add “getting’ to know” you filler. You actually do get to know these characters, but none of them are fleshed out too much. Still, enough is revealed about the three kids that I found myself rooting for them to escape this myriad of horrors.
While there is occasionally gore, most of the horror comes from the atmosphere of the film with the kids charging through the tunnels, running away from something. The big bad is quite menacing and there’s a demon dog that really should have been used to more effect, but I feel the budget didn’t allow for too many effects shots with the zombie-like dog. Still the POV shots of the dog-monster running through the tunnels is an effective cheat.
DEEP FEAR is going to be very reminiscent of everything from the aforementioned catacombs movies to films like THE OUTPOST, THE DESCENT, and even DEAD SNOW (though without DEAD SNOW’s excellent wit and humor). It does deliver a dark and diabolical little tale that once again tells me that a trip to the catacombs is not something I would ever, ever want to do. If you don’t mind the familiar and the overpowering sense of claustrophobia, check out DEEP FEAR.