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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Crawlspace from IFC: In Space No One Can See You Get Stuck in the Ventilation System


IFC Midnight’s Crawlspace set to release early this year is a strange beast. It combines elements of several fan favorite Science Fiction and Horror related tropes to find itself at the same crossroads that a movie like Alien might find itself though it chooses a different path altogether and, of course, your on Earth. What does it want to be? Does it want to outright scare picture or does it have you questioning the nature of your reality; the science of reality… the foundations? Does it go for the gross out?  What you’ll find in this Australian release directed by Justin Dix and written by Dix and Eddie Baroo, also starring, is a film that will push you into the tightest of places, though I’m not entirely certain you’d want to be in any of them. I have bad knees. I generally don’t go in anything called a Crawlspace. Here’s what you’ll find inside.

Synopsis (from IFC Midnight)

Deep in the heart of the unforgiving Australian desert lies Pine Gap, a top-secret government facility operated by the United States military. When the base comes under attack from unknown forces, an elite team is sent in to extract the military scientists. They encounter a beautiful young woman with no memory of how she came to the base, an find it overrun by disturbed patients from the base's medical sector.



With all that being said and now that you understand just what Crawlspace is supposed to be, let me give you my take on it. The film wanders from action movie with Aliens (sequel to Alien) sensibilities, dialogue that would fit better in the action genre and a slight Cronenberg-esque twist that tries to bring the expectation of the viewer and the antagonist into a skewed, confused state. It’s supposed to surprise you. It’s supposed to be scary and that scare is a very common concept in recent horror releases. We all know the real enemy is always humanity and what we do to ourselves is worse than any creature, supernatural, extra-terrestrial or otherwise. It’s a concept that has been posed better in other efforts though mostly zombie-fodder as of late, but I stress that there is definitely an audience that will find Crawlspace’s take on cramped, tight-spaced, action appealing. I won’t giveaway the gimmick here, but you’ll figure it out pretty quickly.

While Crawlspace is not necessarily my cup of tea, there are moments that work quite well. I’m a sucker for a good ventilator shaft chase. I’m also a sucker for the supernatural forces roasting people alive. Call me a sadist (you’d assuredly be right). Director, Justin Dix, is known for his award winning special effects work in Australia which does standout though I would say does not go far enough to be as brutal as a film straight out Wolfcreek production gang including Greg Mclean (head on a stick… you remember that one, right?).  I suppose that’s the danger of jumping to writing/directing when the expectation might be to see some of your gorgeous effects work. It’s not a bad problem to have. This is a good effort from an effects standpoint.

It’s a solid early effort that will find its audience. The narrative does work and you do find the end of the twisting rabbit hole. It suffers from a slow start, and it’s an amalgamation of movies that exist and capture that sense of isolated dread just a wee bit better than Crawlspace. I’m going to leave my allusion to Cronenberg in the dark as I don’t want to give away too much.  If you can get through some early plot fill and find your way to the aforementioned supernatural BANG-POW then you’ll stick around to the end to see how far Dix can take it.

Crawlspace will be available in select theaters, on IFC Midnight Cable VOD & Digital Outlets (SundanceNOW, iTunes, Amazon Streaming, XBOX Zune, Playstation Unlimited) start Friday January 4, 2013.

-Dr. TERROR

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