The feature directorial debut of Arseny Syuhin, The Superdeep follows a team of scientists and military personnel, led by scientist Anya (Milena Radulovic), who are sent to the Kola Superdeep borehole in Russia – the deepest borehole in the world – to retrieve samples after the facility is abandoned. Of course, it’s not as simple as that, and the crew soon discover all manner of horrors that threaten humanity itself.
The Superdeep’s plot is nothing that hasn’t been seen before, and anyone who knows their horror will immediately recognise all the tropes on display (creatures lurking in the permafrost, Cordyceps-esque infections and tense confrontations in abandoned research facilities to name a few), but these familiar horror features are used well here, bolstered by slick cinematography and excellent practical effects. At its best, The Superdeep does an excellent job at creating a tense and unsettling atmosphere, using the claustrophobic space effectively to keep its audience on edge.
The writing is fairly decent too, serving its purpose with some simple character studies along with the occasional political message, but not doing much to inspire. It can occasionally suffer from some inconsistent tone, which, in places, gives the film a muddled visual identity, but these moments are few and far between enough that they do not detract from the experience as a whole.
If there’s one major criticism to level at The Superdeep it’s that it sometimes overstays its welcome with its own pacing. The film has a runtime of just under two hours, and that length can work against its attempts to establish and maintain tension. While it is important for a horror flick to give its audience room to breathe between scares, this one sometimes feels like it gives too much room. Despite the long runtime, the narrative also neglects to give time to exploring or developing its wider cast, making a lot of the characters besides its protagonist seem somewhat flat.
The Superdeep is a decent creature feature, not treading any new ground but accomplishing what it set out to do stylishly. It’s unlikely to set hearts and minds ablaze, particularly for more seasoned horror buffs, but it’s an entertaining enough watch for fans of Cronenbergian body horror.
The Superdeep is released on 17th June 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Superdeep here: