PrintE-mail Written by Chris Holt

Review: Crawlspace / Cert: 15 / Director: Justin Dix / Screenplay: Eddie Baroo, Justin Dix, Adam Patrick Foster / Starring: Eddie Baroo, Justin Batchelor, Nicholas Bell / Release Date: February 18th

In 1966, an opening caption informs us, the US and Australian governments set up a research facility known as Pine Gap in the Aussie outback. Legend has it that this is Australian's very own Areas 51. Now something has gone wrong inside this top secret zone. Tell you one thing - it's gonna be bad, Bruce.

We launch right in with a troop of hard-bitten soldiery types heading into the facility to subdue the escaped prisoners who are running amok there. But things soon go awry. The troop commander encounters a woman who reminds of his dead wife. And - in one of the first real WTF? moments of 2013 - his men are assaulted by what appears to be a gorilla in an American football outfit.

The actual premise of Crawlspace is pretty cool. The facility turns out to be one that focusses on psychic warfare. The prisoners are thus all capable of weird mental attacks ranging from making someone believe that they are dying horribly to Scanners-style exploding heads. The visuals are also impressive for a low-budget feature, the practical FX a refreshing change from the cheapo CGI which is the bane of your usual direct-to-DVD fodder. The main problem with Crawlspace is its screenplay.

The film slides into incoherence pretty early on and favours shouting and swearing over character development. The gorilla on a rampage scene is never really explained. Nor is the fact that everyone is crawling around in air ducts – which allows for a good title but wouldn't seem to be of much use one way or the other in a tussle with telepaths. At the core there is a compelling plot about a grizzled warrior revisiting feelings for a lost loved one, but it gets swamped under blood and grime and pointlessly frenetic cutting. Something of a missed opportunity, Crawlspace isn't the worst psychic thriller ever, but it could have been so much better if only everyone involved had put a bit more thought into it.

Extras: 'Inside the Crawlspace' Making Of

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