A team of Special Forces military personnel has been dispatched to clean up the mess at Pine Gap, a top secret underground experiment facility. With their cut and dry mission to execute any test subjects on site, their orders suddenly become compromised as a woman is discovered that strikes an uncanny resemblance to the Commander’s murdered wife. Will they continue to seek and destroy or is the woman’s presence a key to solving to a much more complex puzzle?
Directed By: Justin Dix
Starring: Eddie Baroo, Nicholas Bell, Amber Clayton, Peta Sargeant
Upon engaging into the first several minutes of Crawlspace I must confess I was tempted to turn it off. I was a little confusing if I was being subject to a military recruitment video or the Australian horror export before me. While a good fifteen minutes go by with mostly unnecessary exposition, tiresome dialogue rest assured once the action begins it is well worth the wait.
Within recent years I’ve broadened my horizons to give foreign film more of a fair shake towards delivering a viable, entertaining commodity. No one can deny the unmistakable prowess the Italian films released in the late sixties and seventies that still very much hold water in the realm of terror when translated into today. The Japanese seemingly had cornered the market in the ‘90’s with their western counterparts The Ring and The Grudge just to name a couple. Some most savvy sheer terror has been released from the land down under as well. Anyone recall the film based on a true story, Wolf Creek? Crawlspace is no exception making this suspense and psychological thriller a bona fide journey into terror.
The actors and actresses are cast very well. The lead of Fourpack, played by Eddie Baroo somehow reminds me of Jason Shatham, just toned down in the aggression department a notch or two. The rapport between the military personnel conveyed onto the screen lightens the tension of a rocky jargon laced start. The character of Eve as played by Amber Clayton is immensely exquisite and could easily pass for a younger sibling of Katherine Heigl. Adolescent boys will be running amok, declaring their new favorite scream queen.
Cinematography techniques are utilized well in depicting unease, darkness and despair within the confines of the underground institution. Lurking around every corner is the unknown capable of suffocating each of our characters figuratively and metaphorically. The overall sense or mood of claustrophobia is enhanced tremendously, luring the audience into the same sense helplessness.
Extreme close ups and rapid panning techniques are used to capture a myriad of emotions delivered from each of the cast. As confusion and disorientation rule the hour, chaos ensues and each of the thespians should be commended for taking us on their journey each step of the way into madness.
The special effects and make up are as equally mesmerizing. Scenes of a ballistic wild ape will surely get the pulse hammering. Dark soulless eyes that entrance each of their hapless victims are all consuming for audience alike.
Compelling scenes of flashbacks can be attributed to a solid editing department. Director Justin Dix is cautious however not to become too indulgent or reliant upon the past to tell the current story. There’s a fine balance of giving clues and hints of what is about to unfold rather than muddling the viewer’s imagination. Fourpack’s tortured past accentuates his current anguish and we, the audience invest deeply into just how Eve fits into the larger picture. Effective conflict is demonstrated consistently and shifts occasionally from inner turmoil to the very real danger before them. The suspense is relentless as a result as one has to question if this is in fact one and the same film that had started from the beginning.
Crawlspace is a very original concept with a unique plot. As each of the multi-layers of psyche are peeled back to unveil a shocking conclusion, the interim is highly gripping, and spell binding fear at its finest.
The use of mind control and exploiting one’s own personal demons and tribulations breathes new life into the genre of psychological horror genre.
In some circles Crawlspace could loosely be considered a Sci-Fi expose. A small subtlety pays homage to director George Lucas. The character of Eve is wearing a pair of government issues smocks. A bar code is seen on her pants that reads THX1138. Incidentally Lucas’s directional debut in 1971 was of the same name.
-Four out of five tombstones.