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DIRECTED BY: Dale Fabrigar
FEATURING: Joseph Almani, Karlee Eldridge, Michael Paré
PLOT: A series of earthquakes has unleashed deadly nematodes, and Danny is forced to confront his lineage while awaiting rescue from this wormy menace.
COMMENTS: Upon finishing They Crawl Beneath, I discovered a message on my answering machine regarding a matter that required prompt attention. This effort took approximately eighty minutes to bring it—not quite—to a close. During my various intervals of being put on hold while I was shuffled around between departments, an unfortunate thought occurred: I was finding this mundane tedium far more satisfying than Dale Fabrigar’s film.
They Crawl Beneath has no respect for the audience’s attention, or intelligence. And a creature feature has no business being this slow, much less waiting until the midpoint (the first half ranking among the least pleasant 40 minutes I’ve endured in a movie) for the crawlers in question to fully mount their offensive. And speaking of offensive, I was nearly tickled with dismay at the character Doctor Wu, a definitely-Asian scientist who somehow has all the answers and, somehow, meets an off-screen death mentioned in one of the throwiest-away of throwaway lines I’ve ever heard. But I get ahead of myself: Jimmy the Cop is a good guy with a bad uncle and a dead dad, who gets trapped under a vintage car in a garage geographically situated in an earthquake-prone part of the world. He faces some worms and familial demons while his girlfriend hovers in the periphery—usually delivering lines in a monotone trance.
Sound cues do all the work for you, be they declarations of “Here there be melodrama!” or of “Here there be scary!” The heavy-handedness of the score bordered on ridiculous, but unfortunately maintained a heartfelt dalliance with boring bombast. Whatever they paid the actors, it was too much—and even more so, the screenwriter. It’d take someone with the B-movie charm of ten Bruce Campbells to compellingly deliver lines like, “Gwen, listen to me: I want to live. For you, and our baby” (oh yes, I had forgotten they threw in a truly random pregnancy to ratchet up the… something), or what I can only presume was an attempt at comedy, “I am definitely hallucinating.”
The movie did nothing well—my time could hardly be described as valuable, but even I felt insulted by this rotten attempt at storytelling. And though my game of phone-tag and being put on hold is, alas, not quite complete, I take considerable comfort in the fact that at least my experience with They Crawl Beneath is over with.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“The result is a really weird combo platter of interpersonal dysfunction within the context of a monster movie, and however many creatures are lying below, They Crawl Beneath might have resonated better had it decided on what kind of a film it really wants to be.”–Jeffrey Kauffman, Blu-ray.com (Blu-ray)