Monday, September 19, 2022

Dig, Starring Thomas Jane

Apparently, you do not need any permits to do salvage stripping or excavation work around condemned buildings in New Mexico. Ordinarily, we would applaud such regulatory liberty, but it works against the independent contractor who is taken hostage with his daughter in K. Asher Levin’s Dig, which releases Friday on VOD and in theaters.

When Scott Brennan’s daughter Jane sneaked out of the house to party with the wrong crowd, he and his wife Linda tried to drag her back home. Since fate was feeling particularly manipulative that night, Linda was killed in a road rage incident on their way back. Ever since, both father and daughter have blamed themselves for her death.

They do not talk much anymore, partly because of their issues and partly due to the effects of the gunshot, which rendered her nearly completely deaf. In his quest to purchase her ocular implants, Brennan agrees to a dodgy high-paying gig stripping a deserted house miles outside Las Cruces. The sleazy Victor also requested a jackhammer and other excavating equipment. It turns out there is something buried deep under the house Victor does not want found when the house is demolished, so he and his sociopathic girlfriend Lola take Brennan and hostage, forcing them to dig it out.

Any film can be compelling if it is executed with style or inspiration, but
Dig is about as run-of-the-mill as it sounds. Even the name is boring. The only thing really notable about it is the casting of Thomas Jane and his real-life daughter Harlow Jane as Scott and Jane Brennan (in a way, that makes her Jane Jane). In fact, they often bicker like they really are father and daughter, giving the film credibility, but also making it painful to watch.

Presumably, this was also an opportunity for Emile Hirsch and Liana Liberato to play somewhat against type as the psycho-couple, Victor and Lola. They scream and yell a lot, but they are mostly annoying together rather than chilling. Eventually, Liberato manages to find a twitchy Juliette Lewis-kind of groove that sort of works, but Hirsch lacks a sufficiently forceful presence. One swing from the manly Jane should be enough to TKO him.

Every critic will write it: “
Dig is a dog,” but that suggests it has more character than it does. The truth is Dig is dull. We wouldn’t mind seeing Harlow and Thomas Jane appearing as another on-screen daughter-father combo, but we really don’t need Hirsch and Liberato teaming-up again. Tragically unremarkable and blah, Dig opens this Friday (9/23) in New York at the Cinema Village.