Highlighted by an incredible performance by Steven Weber, Crawlspace (review) is an enticing indie thriller that is sure to curl your toes and creep you out! The film’s director and co-writer, Josh Stolberg (writer of Piranha 3DD and Sorority Row), recently sat down with Dread Central to discuss it.
Stolberg talked about how this movie is a change of pace for him and where the idea came from. “It’s a really personal film,” Stolberg said. “I do a lot of studio movies, but it’s nice to put together one of these indies and feel really proud of it at the end of the day, which I definitely am.”
He continues, “I was working with a buddy of mine named Nick Taravella, who I co-wrote the script with, and he found a couple of real-life stories. I had been looking for another film to direct, it had been about a year since I had directed a film, and he found one story in particular that took place in Japan where a family realized, after living in a house for a year, that someone was living in their attic. And immediately I thought, ‘This is perfect for a small indie thriller.’ And I started thinking about how creepy it was that you could think you’re alone in your own house, but somebody is there with you and all the creepy ideas that come with that.”
The entire film is a bit of a morality check for audiences. Stolberg spoke on the duality of the story. “We pitched it to a small indie company called Rougarou and they greenlit us on the script and we went off and wrote the whole movie,” Stolberg said. “For me, this was a really great chance to write something that was personal, the kind of movie that wouldn’t necessarily get made in a mainstream way. It wasn’t really a story you could pitch to a gigantic studio like Paramount; yet, it was a story I was really excited to tell, partly because you’ve got two sides and it’s not black and white. It’s not the good guy vs. the bad guy. There’s a little bit of grey in between. You feel some emotions for the bad guy and you feel the good guys are not as good as you hoped they would be. It feels a little more like real life, which was something I was excited to explore as a director.”
Steven Weber’s performance as Aldon Webber is the centerpiece of Crawlspace. Stolberg talked about his experiences with the veteran actor. “I loved him forever,” Stolberg said of Weber, “and I think one of the things he responded to was this great character. It’s not black, it’s not white. You can’t condone what he does, but at the same time there’s an understanding and you feel empathy for this guy who’s lost everything. Steven was really excited to play the character. The scene that he really responded to was the scene with his ex-wife in the house. It really gave you a chance to see this character in a new light. You hate him and you think he’s creepy, but then you see the relationship he shares with his ex-wife and you see the love she still kinda feels for him and you realize there’s a lot more to this character.”
Stolber continued on the mixed emotions he felt for his main character. “While on one hand you’re never going to totally defend someone who goes around killing people,” Stolberg said, “at the same, especially in today’s society where you’re dealing with the bad economy and people struggling to make mortgage payments and the huge impact the banks have had on our economy, and you add to that the emotional trauma of dealing with the loss of come children and what that would do to your psychological well-being. It makes for an exciting character and something you don’t really get a chance to see.”
Although he’s been known for films of a different ilk, Stolberg enjoyed attacking this different type of project. “I love, I absolutely love the franchises and I grew up on Halloween and Friday the 13th, but one of the things I was excited to explore in this movie was an antagonist that had some emotional baggage,” Stolberg said. “I felt like that would be something that was fun to explore and I think that’s what got Steven Weber involved. He was excited to play with that idea. When you look at the relationship he has with the young kid in the house and how he’s emotionally tied to this little boy, partly because he lost his own kids in the pool, you kind of understand a little bit why he became so emotionally attached to the family. When we first started talking about the movie, Nick and I thought about how creepy it would be if you think you’re alone in your own house and think you’re doing things that no one else can see, then you realize there is someone around you. And in some kind of sick, demented way, he thinks he’s part of the family.”
With a minimal budget and limited time to shoot, Stolberg and his cast and crew worked diligently and feverishly to come up with an impressive final product. “This is not a big, gigantic budget movie,” Stolberg said. “It’s small as studio films go. Obviously there’s limitations when making an indie movie like this. We shot it in 16 days, which is nothing when you’re talking about making a feature film. We wrote it specifically so it could be shot in a small space, in limited locations. Many of the locations actually took place in the same house. The old lady’s house was actually in the main house. We only had one day outside that house where we built an attic set. The attic in the house didn’t really work for us as a location so we built an attic set offsite. So we had one day in the attic set and maybe a half-day in other locations. But other than that, we were all in that one location… that’s indie filmmaking!”
And the director raved about how much he loved his cast. Aside from Weber, Jonathan Silverman, Lori Loughlin and Raleigh Holmes also star. “One of the greatest things about working on this type of a movie, aside from working with crew members who are doing it not for the money but to make something they’re excited about, was the actors,” Stolberg said. “You’re working with actors who have been around forever and they’re so talented and they could look at it as just a stupid job and just get paid and walk away, but everybody we worked with were top-notch and so cool to be around.”
Just because it says thriller on the label, don’t think that a director like Josh Stolberg is going to short you on the bloodshed. “When we set out to make this movie, I didn’t want to make a straight horror movie,” Stolberg said. “I come from the horror genre with the kind of movies I’ve either made like Piranha or Sorority Row, or the movies I’ve been obsessed with since I was a kid. I grew up on Halloween, that was my favorite franchise. Kill scenes are the things I love to be involved with. So when we set out to make the movie, while I wanted to make a thriller, I wanted to have horror kills. I wanted to have fun and come up with some things. Like, you don’t see too many old ladies getting killed. So I was thinking, ‘Let’s kill an old lady! Why not?!”
The Gates family’s new dream home quickly turns into a living nightmare, in this disturbing thriller packed with suspense, horror and terrifying twists.
In a charming and quiet suburban town, Tim (Jonathan Silverman) and Susan Gates (Lori Loughlin) have found their perfect new house, and their lively daughter Kayla has just returned home from college to help with the big move alongside her brothers, Shane and Taylor. But behind the picture of suburban bliss is an altogether more sinister story. During the move, Tim reluctantly reveals his knowledge of the house’s dark past — the story of two small children who drowned in the pool and the parents who were forced to move out due to a foreclosure.
As the family settles in to their new home, a series of eerie events begin to suggest that all is not as it should be. Unexplained footsteps, misplaced tools, electronics going haywire and sinister warnings from their new neighbor quickly erode their happiness as anxiety and fear gradually take over their lives. Unbeknownst to them, their cozy little home has an uninvited guest; the deranged previous owner, Aldon (Steven Weber), has returned. Living in the walls and obsessively watching the new owners, as the last vestiges of his sanity disappear, his true intentions become horrifyingly clear.
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