Gods of the Deep (2023) Review: H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival

ATMOSfx! Woo!
Gods of the Deep (2023)

Intensity: 🩸🩸 out of 🩸🩸🩸🩸🩸

Directed by Charlie Steeds

Charlie Steeds tries hard. He and his small British Independent film Company, Dark Temple Pictures, have been cranking out under-the-radar low-budget horror films for a decade. There has always been a role for an ambitious young director like him in the horror genre. Examples abound, from Lloyd Kaufman to Stuart Gordon, Charles Band, and the great Roger Corman. Unfortunately, those directors have some fairly silly and dreadful properties on their ledger. But they understood their product, and they found an audience.

I root for Steeds. When I found out that he had a film having its world premiere at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival, I was excited. Last year, the Festival showed off Freeze, a thoroughly enjoyable Lovecraftian adventure, which I believe marks the high water mark for the production company. The production values and acting from that film were a notable improvement from what Steeds had done before. Many of the same cast returns for Gods of the Deep. The trailer looked good. The chance to see what they do with the Cthulhu legend was intriguing. I like a submarine adventure, so I was ready to see if Dark Temple was continuing to up their game.

Nope. This was a step backward.

The film starts out promising. Jim Peters (Derek Nelson), a daring adventurer, gets recruited to join a team investigating the appearance of an ancient temple in a newly discovered trench near Antarctica. What is it doing down there? The Pickman Company believes that there are important secrets to be uncovered. The six-person team also consists of Captain Atkins (Tim Cartwright), engineer Hank O’Connell (Rory Wilton), concerned biologist (Makenna Guyler), and security man Joe Meeker (Kane Surrey). Why does a project like this need a security man, not an oceanographer? Somebody has to carry the submachine gun, that’s why!

With the introductions completed, the team descends to the bottom of the sea. All the classic submarine tropes kick in. For Example, going so deep that the speed of depressurization instantly could crush us all! Soon after that statement, the sub creaks menacingly after dropping about ten feet underwater. That is not a good sign for a trench run. Also, they are concerned that any leak could be disastrous. And yet, pipes are constantly bursting, and nobody seems particularly alarmed. A second-grader understands that Antarctica is dangerously cold and filled with ice. Unfortunately, this movie forgot that logic. Water sloshes around the submarine, and it doesn’t really bother anybody. Another logistical gap: Let’s cover that mysterious organic sample from the temple of evil with a shower curtain for quarantining purposes. Nice!

The sixth man is the project’s benefactor, Jed Pickman (Chris Lines). It takes you a while to realize he is on the ship, but why should he be there? His presence on the submarine is an incongruous wild card. Pickman dresses like a dandy fop, despite the rest of the crew dressing in uniform. He aimlessly wanders the vessel, roaring mad proclamations as things go awry and scrabbling the corridors with his cane. The nightmare boss feels like a stowaway on his own boat. Somebody should call OSHA.

But, by far, my favorite logic gaffe is that the medical bay is separated from the communicating rooms with a bead curtain! Apparently, the submarine hardware store ran out of pressure doors. These logic gaffes became so frequent that the audience got into it. We entered the so bad it’s laugh-out-loud funny about halfway into the feature. The actors, all regular Dark Temple veterans, committed themselves fully to their performances. Unfortunately, the script let them down. Accordingly, you get wild moments of acting when calm acting is called for or vice versa.

In conclusion, was this movie fun? Yes! Although, it has to be considered dumb fun. I think it qualifies as so bad it’s good, but I also had the benefit of being in a full theater with many other people laughing with me. Your mileage may vary at home when watching this. I will admit that there are times when the movie looks good too. Charlie Steeds has a good visual eye. Unfortunately, the sets and miniatures harken back to the B-Movies of the 1950s. The mini-sub looked like an Ikea product and incapable of surviving ten feet of water, let alone being trench-deep.

Gods of the Deep premiered at The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival. This would probably qualify as rated R for violence and some mild gore. Currently, it does not have a wide or streaming release date. Your best chance to find out when it will be available for you to see would be to check out the Dark Temple website.

Review By Eric Li

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