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RATED Not Rated
STUDIO Kavadba Entertainment
RUNNING TIME 82 Minutes
• One Man’s Goal
• Buchovina Card Game
• There’s No Such Thing as Good Guys: The Making of Fathoms Deep
Actual depth may vary.
Zachary Block, Robert Dill, Austin Galante, Duane Daniels
In the aftermath of a deal gone bad, two partners in crime, Hicks (Zachary Block) and Cash (Robert Dill) are mere puppets in a twisted lineup of crime lords and “not quite so right in the head” villains. Amongst the haunting backdrop of the Mojave Desert, they now have to wait out the storm with a less than appealing saftery man, Pox (Austin Galante of Bad Fathers) while an opposing crime boss Lou Garris (Duane Daniels) hast them hunted down. Will they make it out just in time, or is there even a way out? Fathoms Deep is a thrilling and often comical look into the life of un-organized crime and one thing’s for sure…”There’s no such thing as good guys.”
Anybody who has dug around in the bargain DVD bins has run across what a lot of reviewers have chosen to dub “The Tarantino Ripoff.” I’ve always found the term reductive and a bit snobbish and dismissive. Quentin Tarantino didn’t invent his style, he just happens to be the best at taking the sensibilities of pulp literature and marrying them to the style of 60s and 70s era drive-in movies.
There have been scores of “Tarantino Ripoffs” that managed to elevate themselves beyond this comparison. Way of the Gun, Go, The Usual Suspects, the Mariachi trilogy, The Boondock Saints, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch, and Rock’nrolla all check a lot of the same boxes that Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs did whether they were actually trying to ape Tarantino’s style of not. However, there are a lot of movies that do attempt to ape Tarantino’s style and should right be admonished for it. Is Fathoms Deep one of those movies? Yes. Sweet holy Christ, yes.
After a botched job (there is no other kind of job in these movies) two criminals, named Cash and Hicks, go into hiding from a rival crime boss who has put a price on their heads. They hide with one of their boss’s crazier thugs, Pox, who keeps them out in the desert as two quirky hitmen with a love of inane conversation hunt them down.
Do you see the issues here? The entire plot, the entire movie, is a roadmap of clichés. Our anti-heroes are a no-nonsense criminal who is comfortable with who he is and what he does and a man in turmoil with his chosen profession in contrast to his own perceived goodness. Our villains are a mouthy Irish(?)man and a snaky black guy who drive around talking about random topics such as pop culture, philosophy, food, etc. There is a Mexican standoff between several people that ends with almost everyone shot. The rival mob boss gives long analogous speeches about what he expects from his employees and occasionally has screaming fits when his employees prove incompetent. A badass character is abruptly hit and killed by another character driving a car. A police interrogator says some variation of “Fine, you wanna be cute? I can do this all day.”
I just want to hit the writer sharply on the nose with a rolled up copy of the script for Pulp Fiction and say “No!” whilst pointing at this DVD angrily as though it were a turd cooling on a sofa cushion. However, I have resolved to not just rag on a movie no matter how much I dislike it because:
A) People who make these movies might read this and I’m an insecure loser who wants everyone to like me.
B) There is always something worth talking about favorably in any movie, no matter how bad.
C) Making a movie is really hard and actually managing to not just get one made but actually released is a Herculean feat worthy of, if not praise, respect.
The acting is adequate, nobody here is a breakout here but nobody’s especially wooden either. The camera is a little murky and tends to resort to over stylized shots at times, but there are some shots that work well. The director has a good eye for establishing shots and backgrounds, so while the people on camera aren’t terribly interesting, the scene they’re standing in usually is.
There is a fairly solid concept at the heart of this movie. Basically the idea is decrying the myth of the “good guy.” It’s saying we’re all just shades of gray, some darker than others, but we’re all basically terrible. Unfortunately it’s really hamfisted about getting this point across: a character gives a long speech about it at the end, a wall of text at the beginning explains it, it’s even the tagline on the cover of the DVD! It’s a good theme but it works a lot better if the viewer is left to discover it on their own rather than bashed over the head with it.
There’s a good movie in Fathoms Deep, unfortunately it’s buried under a big steaming pile of blunt execution, mediocre writing, and genre tropes so tired that your eyes will become sore from rolling so much. If the film-makers had spent more time on story and less time on trying to make everything look cool they might have had something here. The film’s technical failures are all forgivable as this was fairly obviously a movie funded by favors and wishes, but the storyline issues make for a movie that’s not very enjoyable to watch or review.—
The DVD contains two short films that are roughly on par with the feature presentation and a “making of” featurette that delves further into the deeper meaning of the movie.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars