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  Superdeep Dig Your Own Hole
Year: 2020
Director: Arseny Syuhin
Stars: Milena Radulovic, Sergey Ivanyuk, Nikolay Kovbas, Vadim Demchog, Kirill Kovbas, Nikita Dyuvbanov, Viktor Nizovoy, Albina Chaykina, Darya Shagal, Andrey Trushin
Genre: Horror, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Anya (Milena Radulovic) is an epidemiologist who this mid-eighties Christmas in Soviet Russia, was planning on spendng the day with friends, but as Mikhail Gorbachev appears on television to impart his seasonal message, there's a telephone call. It seems in her official capacity, Anya is being ordered away to the snowy wastes up North, where an emergency is unfolding that may need her attention, as well as that of a collection of crack troops who accompany her on her helicopter journey. But everyone is cagey about what is actually going on, and she is none the wiser on arriving at a top secret underground base, which just happens to have a man stumbling towards the copter who blows himself up...

So what is happening? Superdeep took its own sweet time in getting around to an explanation, almost two hours worth in fact, which came across as somewhat excessive in light of how that plot fell back on various tropes familiar from many a science fiction horror movie. Mostly Aliens, with Anya our Ripley character (she even ends up in her underwear a la the first instalment in that franchise), but also Event Horizon, as this was loosely based on a hoax of a few decades before that claimed Russian miners had drilled too deep into the Earth's crust. So far that they had reached a vast cavern where they could hear the screams of the damned: these miners had uncovered the denizens of Hell itself! Well, it was a good yarn to sell tabloids...

But over the years the story became an urban myth, concluding the drillers had sealed up the hole they made and labelled the place off-limits, and this is what you may be expecting from this film if you are aware of that tall tale, but it takes an alternate route after pulling a different idea out of the bag. Indeed, though some claimed it was ripping off the John Carpenter The Thing, it was more like the serviceable but entirely disposable prequel that had starred Mary Elizabeth Winstead, an item everyone forgot about within nanoseconds of its release. Many put that down to the studio replacing some expensive physical effects with disappointing graphics at the last moment, so if by any slim chance you recalled that debacle you could watch Superdeep instead, since its effects were reassuringly rubbery.

If you were hankering after a spot of old school latex monster and gore shenanigans, here was a neat location to secure that fix, though it was worth restating it took a, um, hell of a long time before the big bad finally appeared. Before that we were given Radulovic acquitting herself pretty well as a heroine with more of a backbone than her new colleagues anticipate her to have, though it was plain to see she would be the one who made it through to the final scene; in what possible state, however, was more of a mystery. There is an epidemiologist there for a reason, and there was an element of the warning that global warming and climate change could defrost all sorts of nasties from the formerly frozen areas of the planet here as well. Mind you, it was the nasties we could find far below the surface that concerned director Arseny Syuhin, and if this was far too leisurely in building its tension, with the audience too often thinking of different films, for what it was it effectively carried out its task, however derivatively. Music by Dimitri Selipanov.

[Premieres 17 June 2021 on digital **A Shudder Original Film.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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