Directed by K. Asher Levin.
Starring Thomas Jane, Harlow Jane, Emile Hirsch, Liana Liberato, Ashleigh Domangue and Makana David.
A widowed father and his daughter, whose home is about to be demolished, are taken hostage by a dangerous couple who won’t stop until they repossess what’s under the property.
Not just director K. Asher Levin Dig (from a screenplay by Banipal and Benhur Ablakhad) contain the acting debut of Thomas Jane’s daughter, Harlow Jane, but they also play father and daughter in this tonally confusing misfire.
It’s a shame this is their first collaboration, which gets off to a rocky start with Scott Brennan (Thomas Jane) losing his cool with his petrified wife (Ashleigh Domangue) as he crashes a high school party playing the tough guy role, trying to get her 16-year-old daughter Jane (Harlow Jane) away from a prickly boyfriend. Moments later, an unfortunate interaction occurs at a gas station where Scott again loses his temper, this time because a stranger interrupted him. The situation leads to a grisly shooting of his wife, having painted this father as a nasty nutcase whose anger caused irreparable damage to the family.
A year later, Jane no longer speaks and is severely hearing impaired, forcing her to communicate through sign language. Naturally, she bears a grudge against her father, who struggles to connect with her and doesn’t put much effort into learning a new way to communicate. However, some work comes to Scott; demolition work on an isolated house. He also brings his daughter with him in hopes of reconnecting during work.
Suddenly, the house is invaded by white trash rednecks played by Emile Hirsch and Liana Liberato, injecting Dig with an abundance of sleaze that works much better than the horrible dramatic attempts shown between an estranged pair of father and daughter. Victor and Lola have put the demolition workers in charge of the fall, forcing Scott and Jane to drill through the yard for unknown assets. They deliver live turns as entertaining and despicable characters, with Victor ranting about feminist culture and stuffing bodies with more holes than SpongeBob SquarePants.
It’s a crazy twist with Emile Hirsch aware of what kind of crap he’s partaking in. The same goes for Lola, who develops an inappropriate sexual crush on 17-year-old Jane, unafraid to resort to torture once one of the hostages breaks out of her. line. There’s a scene where these lunatics become so distracted by their horniness that having sex with each other hilariously turns into an opportunity for Scott and Jane to run away, which also suggests that K. Asher Levin is on some level aware of the absurdity. What is this story and to shoot. with the camp.
The filmmakers are clearly trying to juxtapose Scott’s personality from the initial tragedy to this hostage situation, now emptier and defeated with no will to fight back for fear of losing another beloved family member. But the mundane dialogue engages us neither in character nor in the corny trick of using sign language to plan an escape. It’s all miscalculated and in bad taste, especially when Scott preaches about forgiveness and Jane breaks down, blaming herself for Mom’s death.
These aspects wash away any fun that can be had here, leaving one wishing that the entire film would focus on the sociopathic escapades of its wacky villains. Time and time again, Emile Hirsch elevates horrible material, but Dig must be buried.
Flashing Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the reviews editor for Flickering Myth. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at [email protected]