His daughter missing and presumed dead, Sean McKenna (Lorcan Cranitch) becomes obsessed with locating her body and spends every waking hour of his life digging to locate it. After serving 15 years in prison for her murder, Ronan (Moe Dunford) is released, wracked with guilt he too starts digging for the body of his childhood sweetheart.
'The Dig' clearly wants to be taken seriously, unfortunately, it gives very few reasons for the viewer to do so. Within the first few shots, you get an overall feeling of what the running time is going to bring. The central character walks into focus and stands poised looking into the middle distance, his eyes scanning with a pensive look on his face, he steps forward out of focus again. If you are not familiar with this shot, we film students were all obsessed with it when the Cannon 550 and its shallow depth of field hit the market. Each frame looks and feels like a short from a recent PhD film school student.
That is not a bad thing overall, you can be hopelessly amateur in my books as long as you are interesting and alas this film doesn’t cut the mustard. Characters often talk to each other on windswept moors in raggedy jumpers, the lead not facing their companion like in a soap, gruffly growling their lines in the vain hope that gives them depth. In fairness, the actors give it socks and try their best to work with what they have got.
It is a surface level film and mistakes faux grittiness for depth. This is largely due to the script which really could have done with a few more editors. The concept within itself is good but the film doesn't really follow the clear artistic current the concept offers and instead it feels like the filmmakers are floundering trying to take the project to safe and easy ground. There is a twist telegraphed midway through that also ruins any tension and hope that the film might find its feet in the third act. When the twist finally happens, it is even more disappointing and nonsensical than what you might think, leaving the rest of the film a bit of a pointless exercise.
By the time the credits roll, it feels like an amateur attempt at a film for adults. It is an unwilling pastiche. As Fredric Jameson would describe, a parody without the self-awareness to have jokes. In the hands of more thoughtful artists, this could have been a real tense tale of morality and forgiveness, instead, it never quite digs deep enough.