‘They Crawl Beneath’ Emerges on Blu-Ray
Well Go USA Brings the Creature Feature to Home Video This October
There’s a noticeable lack of films featuring subterranean monsters. Tremors brought the bacon and while its sequels provide some diminishing returns they do scratch an itch. We’ll take whatever we can get these days. Dale Fabrigar’s cut-to-the-chase title They Crawl Beneath aims to deliver that feeling of being sold on a trailer or premise, with a co-starring role of Michael Paré to sweeten the pot. To put it mildly, the movie will be much of what those interested by the idea will expect. But we’ll watch a monster worm movie any day of the week, right? For those that say yes, Well Go USA has you covered.
Young police officer Danny (Joseph Almani) is working on an antique car at his uncle’s remote ranch when a major earthquake hits, pinning him under the vehicle and leaving him bloodied, alone, and with no way to call for help. Just when he thinks the claustrophobic nightmare can’t get any worse, something truly horrifying emerges from the fissures in the ground, forcing Danny to engage in a brutal fight for his life — and his sanity.
Visuals are crisp and clear throughout with some evidence of sharpening in certain shots, probably at points where shadow and darkness would have softened features in some places. For indoor sequences a brown or blue grading appear with some welcome but still sparse gel lighting during creature or effects shots. Exterior shots are set at the golden hour, whether to provide establishment coverage or cutting to the other side of a phone or walkie talkie conversation. Scenes in low light retain their full dynamics despite the sharpness issue in places so everything can be plainly seen. The cinematography fills in the feeling of being in a darker place by blocking out negative space in the foreground and is relatively cleverly done for the limited dramatic space of the garage.
There are 2 audio tracks offered on this disc, a stereo and DTS HDMA 5.1 option.
The audio provides a pretty flat picture in the sonic side of things, where being trapped in an enclosed space may illustrate. Where the film could have done something a little more intriguing with how it sounds sfx-wise, it relies on visuals instead to create that space. It’s disappointing given how the movie could be a little more engaging in an aspect that could help define the experience.
For the purpose of this review the 2.0 stereo mix was the chosen audio track due to hardware limitations.
They Crawl Beneath is first and foremost a monster movie but even then its license wears thin. The movie tries to make the most out of its limitations, and the creature effects are really something to admire, but our main character Danny is already at a disadvantage with the audience once the film starts. His weird desire to reunite with his ex-girlfriend, who does not want to see him, is one of the problematic things established in him as a character. His uncle is also someone who has transgressed on his then-girlfriend yet he still chooses to wave away the offense, assuming the authority to speak for his ex in this regard. It’s an unnecessary familial drama thread for a movie that goes where it does, and that’s just a movie where they get trapped in the garage with giant mutant worms.
What we get from the horror side of the movie is just mildly entertaining. The effect the worms’ bites have on Danny’s psyche make the experience more interesting and fun — especially Paré’s chewy dialogue — but still not nearly enough. It’s not a knock on how little the film does, doing little in a film like this comes preferred by this reviewer. Its strengths lie in being a surface-level creature feature that appeal to the post-Asylum crowd, that is, a movie being made for its own merits rather than as a cheap joke. It never needed to give a reason why these mutant worms exist in the first place (and it doesn’t) because it knows it wouldn’t add anything. By heaping all the stakes onto Danny’s character, already of questionable character, there’s hardly any growth for him in the film. This comes recommended if you want something to throw on for your early October viewing but it’s no classic.
Disclaimer: Well Go USA has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
They Crawl Beneath is available to purchase starting Tuesday, October 4th from Well Go USA on Blu-Ray and DVD.