Directed by Justin Dix
Crawlspace, the debut feature from Aussie director Justin Dix, is a sci-fi thriller that wears its influences on its sleeve. This isn’t a bad thing, mind you, but as the film plays out, it becomes obvious that Dix and his writing crew, consisting of star Eddie Baroo and Adam Patrick Foster, didn’t want to leave the safety of this influential bubble to explore new ideas or put an interesting spin on an old one.
Crawlspace follows a group of soldiers sent to infiltrate Pine Gap, a top secret Australian military base located deep underground, and extract the scientists after a security breach. One of their tasks is to eliminate a series of hostiles, but after coming across Eve (Amber Clayton), a woman who seems to have strange telekinetic powers and a mysterious connection to their squad leader, Romeo (Ditch Davey), the simple extraction turns into a fight for survival as they’re faced with the sinister truth behind the facility.
As Crawlspace plays out, it’s clear you’ve seen it all before: the rugged soldiers sent in on a seemingly routine mission; the tough-as-nails female soldier; the amnesiac survivor the soldiers are forced to bring with them; and a sinister story involving secret military operations. Echoes of Resident Evil and Alien resonate off the walls of the titular crawlspace that serves as the prime location for a science fiction thriller that is never boring but not truly memorable enough to warrant a second viewing. Fear is driven through a lingering sense of claustrophobia and not much else, as its story and the way it plays out are so familiar it’s near impossible to experience anything resembling a genuine fright.
As the characters explore the facility and attempt to extract their targets, hints of the film turning into a traditional creature film are seen as they’re attacked by a hulking gorilla-like creature seemingly impervious to gunfire. But as quickly as it arrives, it disappears, as the film slowly but steadily descends into the realm of standard sci-fi fare, filled with secret military experiments who possess telekinetic powers eerily reminiscent of Scanners. Its mostly paint-by-numbers plot is given some respite with a series of third act twists that attempt to lift the film above and beyond what it appears to be on the surface, though it does little to offset the nothingness you feel while watching the movie. The attempt is admirable, but it just doesn’t work.
Crawlspace exists, but other than that it doesn’t do much else. It’s fun, it’s mildly entertaining at times, but it’s little more than a collection of ideas you’ve already seen in better movies. Still, if you’re the type of individual who loves bloody sci-fi horror that makes an honest attempt at being a bit more cerebral than your standard creature feature, Crawlspace might satisfy you. If anything, it’s a decent way to kill an hour and a half.
2 1/2 out of 5