Subtle horror is the subgenre that can haunt the adults in the audience in the same way that outward horror movies scare the young and inexperienced. The difficulties with these films though is with little happening the audience needs to be given something to keep their interest. This can be characters or an interesting location or an exciting killer, but the film becomes tedious and boring if they are given nothing. Digging to Death has moments of flavor and things happening but is only ever doing the bare minimum to keep the interest alive.
David’s life has hit a rough patch and he is trying his best to keep everything together. He has bought a house he can barely afford that has a shot septic tank and his daughter’s medicine she needs to live has gotten even more expensive. Luckily for David, he has just found three million dollars buried in his backyard, albeit alongside a corpse. Day after day though this corpse seems more lively than it should be, causing David to become more and more paranoid about who may want to take his money away, leading to some deadly situations for the people in his life.
The tone of Digging to Death can only be described as a Hallmark Channel Horror movie. In the same way that Hallmark has made hundreds of Christmas movies that all feel the same and have the same characters, this film has an extremely generic cast that finds themselves in a vanilla horror situation. Sure you would never see a Christmas special for mom where a man is beaten to death with a hammer, but for the audience that has seen at least one horror movie, it feels generic and bland. It has its moments that are surprising but they are far and few between.
Most of the film’s shortcomings come from the cast being so forgettable. Besides the lead, the eight other side characters bring no energy to Digging to Death and just exist to keep the plot moving forward. While David is serviceable, even funny at some points, there is a constant disconnect that makes his performance feels insincere and phony. That in itself makes for some amusing moments but it leads the audience to show no concern for the character or want to see them succeed. It leaves a disconnect that makes the audience wait for things to happen with no real investment.
There is a constant struggle in movies to keep the audience’s attention and keep them invested. Where the location and killer can hold the audience’s attention as long as something is happening, good characters and proper development can cause the audience to think about the characters even when they are not on screen. Digging to Death had me more concerned over the haunting spirit costing David his promotion than it ever did the safety and security of the characters. In the end what we have is a well-shot film, with some amazing look make-up on an old man, being wasted on something so poorly paced.