I found that under-rating color neg film(say, Portra 400VC @ 1600, so 2 stops underexposed), then push it 1 stop(so 1 stop underdeveloped), gave me "muddied" blacks that were not totally black. I was printing for the highlights remember, and everything was underexposed. The chalky blacks gave an interesting feel to some shots. Definitely something to test before committing to any major shots, but modern films in the last decade are pretty darn cool in their latitude.

Recommendations are exactly that, recommendations. What works for one person and their tastes might not work the same for someone else's vision.

FYI, I wasn't scanning these particular aforementioned shots, but wet printing them

gave similar results to the photo in the link below(not mine, but just as an example):