Crawlspace (2012)

Directed By: Justin Dix
Written By: Eddie Baroo
  Justin Dix
Starring: Nicholas Bell
  John Brumpton
  Amber Clayton
  Eddie Baroo

Crawlspace is the feature length directorial debut of Australian special effects/makeup maestro Justin Dix, whose resume in that field includes the likes of the Star Wars prequel Trilogy and personal favourite of mine, Lake Mungo.

The basic premise will be familiar to most horror fans, as originality isn’t exactly Crawlspace’s strong suit. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a troupe of crack soldiers is sent to investigate/clear out a government facility. It quickly becomes apparent that said facility has been the site of shady government experiments on people. Needless to say, shit hits some form of rotary blade and chaos ensues, as the test subjects wreak bloody revenge on people who aren’t really responsible for their current predicament unless you are casting the net stupidly wide.

“So if the plot is so seemingly banal, is this even worth a watch?”, I hear you muttering to nobody in particular. The short answer is yes, yes it is. What it may lack in originality, Crawlspace more than makes up for in execution. As would be expected, the effects are pretty top notch, with the exception of a couple of regrettable uses of CGI blood, and what really stood out for me was the quality of the sound design. The sound track and effects are so well done that they contribute more than you would think possible to giving the film a real sense of tension and dread. I am well aware of how important good sound design is, but this is that rare example of good sound design improving the production value of a movie tenfold.

The direction is pretty on point as well, with the shots within the titular crawlspaces feeling genuinely claustrophobic, and a particularly nicely filmed reflection shot. Go watch it; you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Crawlspace is not without its shortcomings however. The plot and some of the more stodgy parts of the writing do combine to make it feel more like a bad video game adaptation rather than a standalone movie, albeit with far better pacing, and some actual moments of terror (I’m looking in your direction, Dead Space and other triple A ‘horror’ games), and the use of CGI blood and a solitary Wilhelm Scream early on did crack the immersion somewhat.

In spite of this, Crawlspace is a decent enough take on the horror/action/sci-fi genre that everybody knows deep down that they love, and it’s all very nicely done, if a little hollow.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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