“Soft for Digging” is an inventive little creeper shot in rural Maryland by a twentysomething director for very little money. While it may not banish memories of “The Blair Witch Project,” it could still cost you a night’s sleep.
Writer/Director/Producer/Editor JT Petty uses his 16MM camera to paint an affecting portrait of lonely old man Virgil (Edmond Mercier), the disappearance of whose cat leads him into the mystery of a little girl’s murder. Petty certainly knows his way around a scare, because the dead girl pops up everywhere and she never fails to raise a goosebump or two.
But Petty’s most admirable move is his ability to tell his story almost entirely without dialogue. For the film’s first hour, the only word uttered is, fittingly, “Murder.” And for the remainder, we only hear three lines of explication – all else is unsettling sound effects, clammy atmosphere, and the expressive visages of Mercier and Sarah Ingerson, who plays Claire, the poor victim.
Be warned: “Soft for Digging” is grim going. The film doesn’t lack a sense of humor, though it’s of the pitch-black variety. The joke which ends the film is as sick as it gets, but also makes a cruel kind of sense. Petty is one to keep an eye on – as long as he steers clear of “Blair Witch 3.”