The Dig – Film Review by Frank L.
Directors: Andy Tohill, Ryan Tohill
Writer: Stuart Drennan
Stars: Francis Magee, Moe Dunford, Lorcan Cranitch
The Tohill brothers are a Northern Ireland duo of film makers. This is their first full length feature. The landscape is a damp bog somewhere in the North. Adjoining it is a boarded-up farm house. It belongs to one Ronan Callahan (Moe Dunford). The opening scenes are his returning to this lonesome unloved house. The slow pace of the views of the grim farmhouse and its situation in the dour landscape creates an eerie beginning with Callahan slowly pushing open the front door creating a fine sense of uncertainty.
The house it appears had been left in a hurry and it transpires that Callahan is returning to his home after having served fifteen years in prison for the murder of his neighbour’s daughter in an alcoholic binge. The facts of the encounter he does not recall exactly. His neighbour is Sean McKenna (Lorcan Cranitch) the father of Callahan’s victim. He has spent the last fifteen years digging in Callahan’s bog trying to find the remains of his daughter. The landscape is littered with the spoil of his unsuccessful endeavour. McKenna has another daughter Roberta (Emily Taaffe) who keeps house for him as he pursues his obsession. The tension between the two men is palpable and their body language is one where violence is not far away. However, a strange uneasy truce develops between them and they both dig together in search of the remains. Slowly facts emerge about that fateful event which alters everything.
The film initially generates suspense but the twists and turns of the story become hard to credit as the facts about the murder begin to emerge. The complexities of the plot overwhelm the initial quality of suspense. The acting of Dunford and Cranitch as foes and then as reluctant collaborators is finely wrought, particularly Dunford when he is coming to terms with his return from jail. Taaffe is assured as the enigmatic Roberta. The cinematography of the wet, grey-green and brown landscape and dilapidated farmhouse and its surrounds is beautifully rendered.
By the end of the film, the intensity of the beginning was no more and consequently the entire film failed to maintain its impressive start.