REVIEW: ‘Deep’ Brings A Slow-Moving Story With Little Payoff

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Deep is a Thai suspense movie streaming on Netflix starring Panisara Rikulsurakan. Jane is a promising medical student who often goes without sleep. This works out for her since—between med school, taking care of her grandma, and looking out for her sister—she can’t really spare the time. But when she is pointed toward a research experiment that looks to harvest chemicals from people in a sleep-deprived state and offers a hefty cash reward for doing so, it seems like the perfect fit to help Jane get her family out of debt. But there’s a catch. If the subject falls asleep for more than one minute during the experiment, the implant gathering the chemical will short out, killing the subject.

Deep tries to hang its sleep-deprived narrative on the two big pillars of suspense and the investment the cast’s personality draws from the viewer. While there are flashes of promise from both aspects of this nearly two-hour story, it ultimately fails to deliver on either to the extent that it feels so close to reaching. What goes wrong with these focuses? Well, to start, let’s talk about the characters.

The movie is built primarily around Jane (Rikulsurakan) and three other students who all enroll in the sleep deprivation study called Deep. The program has three different levels to it that require an increasing length of time to stay awake. But with each one comes a larger reward, with level three paying out one million baht. While the four students manage level one without a hitch, level two becomes a much rockier ride. With their struggles to stay awake increasing, the quartet turn to ever more drastic measures to stay awake and alive. It is in this second phase of the story that the personalities present in Deep start to fall apart.

When introduced, each character is presented as a pleasant enough personality, with each possessing their own quirks and foibles. There is the party boy, the female influencer who doesn’t want to be at med school but is forced by her parents, and the socially awkward guy who plays video games all day.

As one would expect, the increasing levels of sleep deprivation begin to affect the group in numerous ways. Some act oddly, some become more honest about who they really are, and some notice things around them they never had before. These personality changes come to reveal some big things about certain members of the group. And while these revelations are given their due in the moment, they are all-too-quickly swept under the rug as the plot moves forward. While I appreciate the story’s desire to create additional tension between its characters, if a plot point isn’t going to matter more than five minutes after its reveal, the story will probably be better off without it rather than casting the characters in a worse light without anything coming of it.

With the characters largely failing due to a lack of commitment to the story’s plot points, the same can be said for the suspense. While Deep does provide occasional moments of uncertainty, the film never manages to fully deliver on the tension it tries to build. This is in large part due to the lack of punch in the finale.

Most suspense features reach a point in the third act where everything unravels and chaos ensues. While the situation does come unglued at the appropriate time, the movie never allows the full chaos to bring the panic that might’ve made this movie’s build-up successful. Instead, once the situation is broken open it simply settles on delivering a few more unsettling moments, and then it wraps. While these moments are well executed by themselves, they don’t work as a final payoff.

Much like the previous elements spoken about here, Deep‘s visual presentation fails to deliver that final push that is needed to take it the distance. While the camera work, lighting, and music all work to establish the opening tones of a good suspense piece, they fail to push the energy of the film past the initial levels of unsettling.

Perhaps the strongest aspect of the film is the acting. I felt cast in its entirety delivers their roles well. The presentation of the core four feels believable for the majority of the movie, and the sinister doctor who administers the procedure is absolutely unsettling.

So, when all is said and done, Deep delivers an interesting tale that builds up some strong moments of suspense, but never really manages to follow through with an adequate payoff for its work.

Deep is streaming now on Netflix.



So, when all is said and done, Deep delivers an interesting tale that builds up some strong moments of suspense, but never really manages to follow through with an adequate payoff for its work.

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