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Review: Horror-Comedy ‘It Cuts Deep’ Explores Relationships at Salem’s Horror Fest

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Review: Horror-Comedy 'It Cuts Deep' Explores Relationships at Salem's Horror Fest

It Cuts Deep, written and directed by Nicholas Santos, is a horror-comedy with a nostalgic ’90s indie feel. Imagine if Jason from Friday the 13th were in a Romantic Comedy: What would he be like?

A couple on vacation during Christmas face a crisis about their status as a duo. Is the relationship going to advance to the next level? Ashley (Quinn Jackson) wants to get married, but Sam (Charles Gould) doesn’t want to—at least, he thinks he doesn’t want to, he’s not sure. He doesn’t want to lose Ashley but marriage and having children is a big step and one he can’t take back.

An old friend, Nolan (played by John Anderson), stops by the cabin and invites himself to dinner. Sam and Nolan haven’t seen each other in ten years. Sam doesn’t want to have Nolan to dinner, but Nolan insists even though it’s clear Sam doesn’t want him around. They were good friends, but now there is tension between the two. Nolan threatens the insecure Sam with his looks and ease, but perhaps nice Nolan isn’t as nice as we think. Sam is paranoid and jealous about him paying attention to his girlfriend-soon-to-be-wife, maybe. But it’s hard to tell where the tension is coming from—is Sam overreacting, or is Nolan sabotaging their relationship?

It Cuts Deep 2020

Charles Gould as Sam is funny, and my favorite part of the film is watching his face when Nolan says something infuriating. The way Sam cuts into his potato at dinner says everything about how he feels about Nolan. They argue passive-aggressively and then openly until Sam is at his wit’s end. Sam tries hard not to let Nolan get the best of him, and it’s funny to see him suffer. Later, in the backyard, Nolan tells him to lockdown Ashley because obviously, Sam can’t do any better, which Sam suspects, but he doesn’t like to hear it from Nolan. If he liked Nolan, perhaps it’d be funny but coming from his frenemy, it’s a diss, and it’s deliberate, and Sam doesn’t like it.

Sam doesn’t trust Nolan or Ashley. But Ashley is a grown-up who can make her own choices, and Nolan can’t take her away unless she wants to leave. But we don’t hear much from Ashley until the end. Even though the film is about their threatened relationship, it feels as if Nolan is more important to Sam. He was confused about his future with Ashley until a rival showed up. He wasn’t sure if what he had was good enough until another man confirmed it. At times, it feels as if the film is making fun of Sam. Because Sam is a doofus, he seems like a loveable one at first, but underneath that, he’s spoiled, selfish, and misogynistic. Not that Nolan is any better though that might be projection from Sam.

It Cuts Deep suggests that relationships (and friendships) are difficult because people are rarely what they seem. Sometimes people turn out to be cynical or controlling—or worse, sexist. Perhaps they assume the worst about you and the best of others. The film asks: What happens when you discover that a person might not be who you think they are?

It Cuts Deep is a Christmas film, but the holiday serves as an ironic backdrop instead of Christmas horror. Horror fans are gluttons for holiday gore, perhaps to a fault. But it’s not about Christmas; it’s about dysfunctional relationships. It Cuts Deep is enjoyable, particularly Charles Gould as Sam, and the end delivers a final joke on relationships. 


It Cuts Deep opens on digital platforms on November 13th, 2020.

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