Erotic thrillers are unfortunately a dying breed. Into the Deep, the newest from writer David Beton (The Banishing) and director Kate Cox, does little to make a case for their return. To be completely honest, the gorgeous, perfectly-chiseled Matthew Daddario was the one and only reason this little film was even on my radar in the first place. Unfortunately, as I learned with Daddario’s previous feature, 2021’s Trust, a stellar cast does not equal a fantastic movie. Into the Deep is so concerned with setup that it forgets to have a proper finale, or any real conflict.
As the anniversary of her mother’s death by drowning approaches, Jess (Ella-Rae Smith, Sweetheart, Seance), still haunted by nightmares, refuses to simply “move on” despite urging from her father, who has found a new woman. After a run-in with mystery man Ben (Daddario, Freeform’s Shadowhunters, Cabin Fever), Jess invites him to a bonfire party on the beach. The two eventually leave the party, stumbling onto the comfort of Ben’s “work in progress” boat/home. Ben makes Jess a drink, they make out passionately, she passes out, and awakens to find herself deep out in the middle of the ocean!
Weirdly enough, Jess isn’t all that miffed about the whole situation. She is initially slightly freaked out, but after reassurance from Ben that “it was meant to be a nice thing,” Jess pretty much just goes with it. They have fun on a secluded island, and he schmoozes her by disclosing a tragic story of his father having recently died from cancer. Before one can blink, Ben has seduced Jess, and they are having sex out in the open, surrounded by nothing but water in the broad daylight. One could quite literally say that he screwed her so good, that she no longer cares about being trapped way out in the ocean.
Shortly after this, a third person enters the fray, and changes the dynamic completely. Lexi (Jessica Alexander, A Banquet, upcoming Disney feature The Little Mermaid) washes up unconscious on a jet ski just as they’re about to head back for the mainland. Ben is openly flirtatious with Lexi once she is up and around, noticeably making Jess uncomfortable. The vibe between the three is prickly with tension. Apart from a constantly-shirtless Matthew and a fun game of “flip, sip, strip,” I kept waiting for the excitement to arrive but, alas, it never does.
Once Lexi enters Into the Deep, the film practically runs towards an underwhelming, predictable finale that one can feel coming from a mile away. Jess as the lead is boring and untextured; the setup of the movie goes on for so long, yet we never learn enough about Jess as a person to make her a character worth following. Fans of Matthew Daddario can certainly come for the eye candy! Erotic thriller aficionados, however, must continue to wait for the next best thing.
Into the Deep swims its way on demand and digital on Friday, August 26th.