LA Film Fest 2018: Deep Murder, by David Bax
Nick Corirossi’s astounding Deep Murder is such a thoroughly committed work of parody that its commitment is, in some ways, actually part of the joke. Take, for instance, the opening scenes. We are introduced to the movie’s world—that of a 90s-era, Skinemax-style softcore porn flick—through a smudgy, smeary, Vaseline-caked lens, a ridiculously funny exaggeration of the soft, high-key, standard definition look of the era and genre. Corirossi keeps with this look just long enough for us to start to question how much of it we can take.
Aesthetically, Deep Murder changes when the plot—and, subsequently, the genre—does. In this tacky mansion full of people getting it on or talking about getting it on, one of them (Jerry O’Connell) suddenly turns up stabbed to death. The survivors—businessman, lonely housewife, nerd, jock, babysitter and scientist—must figure out, with the help of a detective—just what’s going on before the next person is killed.
Deep Murder’s main source of comedy is that these characters, living inside the type of movie they do, are only accustomed to thinking about things within certain strict parameters. The greatest and smartest conceit of the screenplay is that the murder doesn’t force them into the real world but into an entirely different, also rigidly defined, genre; the Agatha Christie, one-of-us-is-the-killer type.
Oh, and it’s also a pretty gruesome slasher flick. The murders here aren’t the genteel, letter-opener-through-the-waistcoat ones of Gosford Park. They are increasingly outlandish impalings and dismemberments.
Comedians and comedy fans often resist analysis of the form. The thinking is that, well, thinking too much about comedy robs it of its power. I’ve never agreed with that so let me get highfalutin for a second. There’s a running joke about the detective having accidentally gotten someone else’s trench coat from the dry cleaner. The question raised but never actually asked by that bit of backstory is whether or not he was a detective before he put it on. In the world of Deep Murder, you are the archetype your setting and costume suggest that you are. But once they find themselves in another genre, these characters are forced to think in new ways. They become smarter. Is it possible that this crazy, bloody, smutty, hilarious movie is also an argument for the ability of fiction to help us make sense of the world? Or is it just an excuse to have someone wield a dildo as a murder weapon? Both are perfectly valid reasons for a movie this much fun to exist.