The 21st century resurgence of Australian horror cinema
has been an impressive one that includes the likes of Wold Creek
, Black Water
, Storm Warning
. The latest is Crawlspace
, a movie that not coincidentally features several of the behind-the-scenes talent from those films.
When contact with Pine Gap, the top-secret underground research facility that's the Australian equivalent of Area 51, is lost suddenly, a team of soldiers goes in with instructions to terminate the dangerous prisoners inside and to rescue any scientists who remain alive. Amidst the aggressive prisoners, they find a young woman named Eve (Amber Clayton) -- or so says her bracelet -- with no memory of who she is. But Romeo (Ditch Davey), one of the leaders of the mission, recognizes her; she looks just like his dead ex-girlfriend.
But how can that be? That's just one of the many mysteries that multiply in the dark corridors of the facility, where the soldiers are confronted not only by violent prisoners and test subjects but also by mysterious creatures and strange visions that are beyond explanation. It's up to the rescue team to figure out what's going on, who Eve is and how to make it out of Pine Gap alive.
The End Result
Amber Clayton in 'Crawlspace'.© IFC Midnight
From the inventive opening title sequence, it's evident that Crawlspace boasts a bold look and strong production value that, combined with a quick pace that jumps into the action right away, keeps the film from becoming stale -- which is a real possibility, given the plot feels cobbled together from several other movies. The setup initially feels like Aliens, then migrates into Event Horizon and eventually dives headlong into Scanners/Firestarter/The Fury territory before tossing in a bit of Species for good measure. The result feels both familiar and sloppy, with thrown-together elements that build to a predictable conclusion but in a confusing manner -- from uneven character delineation to jumbled action sequences and stilted dialogue. Making his feature film debut, however, director Justin Dix's makeup expertise helps balance the script shortcomings via excellent real-world (no apparent CGI) creature effects and horror crowd-pleasing gore.
- Acting: C+ (Solid all around.)
- Direction: C+ (Attractively shot, but some of the action is confusing.)
- Script: D+ (A jumbled mass borrowed from other films.)
- Gore/Effects: B (Strong makeup effects and gore.)
- Overall: C (Slickly made and engaging but unoriginal and confusing.)
Crawlspace is directed by Justin Dix and is not rated by the MPAA. Release date: January 4, 2013 (in theaters and on demand).
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