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Film: The Deep Dark ( Gueules Noires)
Cast: Samuel Le Bihan, Amir El Kacem, Thomas Solivérès, Jean-Hughes Anglade
Director: Mathieu Turi
Rating: 2.5/5 
Runtime: 103 min

In 1856, in the historic coal mines of Northern France, Pas-de-Calais known as the Devil’s Island, a group of miners found themselves trapped after a cave-in. A hundred years later another group led by Roland Neville (Samuel Le Bihan), and including Louis (Thomas Solivérès), Miguel (Diego Martín), Polo (Marc Riso), Santini (Bruno Sanches) and Amir (Amir El Kacem), are tasked with taking Professor Berthier (Jean-Hugues Anglade) to those very deepest, darkest subterranean depths, to take samples and measurements and a sudden landslide prevents them from surfacing.
 
Things get worse after that. They happen to awaken the restive Mok’Nor Roth, known as the Eater of Souls and a servant of Cthulu and mayhem ensues.This ancient mutant that terrorised earlier miners is still around and thirsting for blood. 
 
The setting obviously invokes claustrophobic which in turn gives vein to tension and a sense of urgency …but only for a brief while. It’s imperative that the miners be rescued but is that going to happen before the monster gets to them? The geologist is there for his own ends, the mining company wants to gain from this exploration and some of the miners themselves want to tidy away some gems to secure their own future. So most of the people caught up in the terror are morally ambiguous indicating an ‘each for his own’ motto that might prove detrimental to their survival. There’s infighting and the men find their trust in each other eroding. The men are also hostile towards their new crew member Amir, a Moroccan who sends all his earnings to his family in his home country.
 
The narrative stays focused on the men in the deep dark domain. We are privy to their immediate concerns but not of their past. Turi’s screenplay expands on the degree of difficulty they experience while doing their thankless job but we barely get to know the men or their inner workings.
 
It’s the monster who fails to evoke any scares. The practical effects look rather crude and inept. So what we assume as a bloodthirsty creature awakened from a crypt, seems a little too mild to be effectively fearsome. Director and writer Mathieu Turi tries his best to sustain the fear factor but once the monster comes into play, the fear and tension begins to dissipate considerably. Even the dark, dank, lamp lit cinematography is unable to make amends thereafter. We never get to feel a foreboding sense of atmosphere. The pacing is also too uneven to maintain tension. 
 
The screenplay is character-driven and strives to create terrifying confrontations for the old and the new generations. It’s the inept practical effects that fail this horror movie. Mirroring H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, and set in a French reality with appropriate social context, the director hopes to generate existential horror through the discovery of forbidden primordial knowledge. But it`s all in vain once the laughable creature comes into play. 



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