January 5, 2013

Filthy Review - 'Crawlspace'

Crawlspace (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

Australia isn’t the most prolific country when it comes to genre cinema, although it has given us some absolute beauties. The Loved Ones, The Snowtown Murders, The Horseman and the batshit short, Axed, are just a few that have impressed me over the last couple of years or so, and now we have Crawlspace from director Justin Dix. This was a film that I was quite eager to see, as I had been impressed by what I had read about it. Maybe it is because of this that I came away from it feeling a little underwhelmed.

The basic plot concerns a group of soldiers that are sent to the Pine Gap underground military complex; a kind of Aussie Area 51 if you will, when the facility comes under attack from an unknown force. Their mission is to take down any hostiles and to rescue any survivors. It’s fairly straightforward stuff, and could have made for a really exciting film.

What we do get is a lot of wandering around corridors and a lot of dialogue, which doesn’t offer up all that much in the way of substance. There are some really solid moments though, which hint at something more, and seemed to offer up a precursor of more to come. By that I mean that there were a lot of, not exactly unanswered questions, but more the potential to further develop the story in a sequel.

Visually, Crawlspace is quite excellent and the cinematography does a terrific job of making the film look like something quite special. There’s a nice claustrophobic feel to the film, but at the same time I did find myself asking if this facility was comprised entirely of corridors and nothing else. However, this is redeemed by the questions asked about what exactly is going on down there; there’s certainly more going on than first meets the eye, and it is this area that makes the film most interesting.

If you can imagine a cross between Resident Evil, Aliens and Scanners, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what Crawlspace is all about. It’s not really an original concept, but there is just about enough there to make the film warrant a viewing. As a debut directorial outing Dix might not have blown the bloody doors off, but he has certainly given them a good battering.

I think the most frustrating aspect of the film though is that it just wasn’t especially memorable. If it was terrible it would have been far easier to write about, however instead I found it to be incredibly middle of the road. I didn’t get overly excited about anything, yet it was far from a terrible film.

What bothers me most is that I suspect that Crawlspace might benefit from repeated viewings, although I am not sure that I want to watch it again. I don’t give films ratings in my reviews, because I do find it too limiting, but if I was to give Crawlspace one it would probably be a C+. 

Stick with it and you’ll find that the conclusion just about makes up for what has gone on before.
Solid cast, great visuals but ultimately a little on the uninspiring side of things, Crawlspace could have been so much more than it actually ended up being. A hesitant recommendation is all I can give it.

Crawlspace is currently playing select theaters and is available on IFC Midnight Cable, VOD and Digital.

No comments: