There is something so unsettling about an intruder in your home. It is a violation of every safety we believe in. It is for this very reason that the home invasion film generally works, it trades on our most personal fear, that our home can keep secrets from us and is therefore not as safe as we like to believe. There are many ways to tell this story but one of the best is 1989’s Hider in the House starring Gary Busey. It is a variation on this very theme that sets the stage for Josh Stolberg’s directional debut, Crawlspace.
The scene opens up with the sight of boxes and packing material while the chatter of a family can be heard in the background. The chatter quickly turns into screams as the film begins. Cut to Kayla (Raleigh Holmes) and her boyfriend Derek (Paul James) driving up. Kayla’s family has just bought this home and she is down from collage to help with the transition. Parents Tim and Susan (Jonathan Silverman and Lori Loughlin) are understanding in their own way but clearly are in over their head. Tim works for the Bank that owns the property while Susan is a stay at home mom. Under their roof that have their teen aged son Shane (Sterling Beaumon) and their small daughter Abby (Morgan Bertsch).
At first things seem normal but slowly their world spins out of their control. The house’s original owner, Aldon Webber, has returned to reclaim his home. Sneaking into the attic, he watches and manipulates the family toward his ultimate goal, reclaiming his life.
Crawlspace is a decent thriller that presents an interesting conundrum for viewers. The characters are good people but Aldon is a broken and desperate man. I am, of course, not excusing his actions, but you can certainly understand him to a point, and that fact creates a bit of resentment for those responsible. I’m not saying who, but…
Like many films in this genre, the characters are front and center. The Gates are a pretty decent family as far as that goes. In fact, the only real issue I had was the brother/sister relationship between Kayla and Shane. I just found it downright annoying in an '80s teen comedy kind of way. However, the overall dynamic works and that is important. Also, both Raleigh and Sterling are good when they’re allowed to behave like humans towards each other. As far as Jonathan Silverman and Lori Loughlin, they are good together and we get a good sense of them as a couple. They aren’t going to win any patent of the year awards (especially Tim), but they are likable enough as your friends parents.
Though everyone works hard, it is Steven Weber who owns this film. His performance as Aldon Webber is both evil and tragic, which causes us to be a little torn. It is such a solid performance that allows him to do everything he tried to do in The Shining mini-series without all the baggage that comes with it.
Crawlspace is not original or bloody. That isn’t the kind of film you are getting here. It is a dark character drama which works well as long as you come at it from that angle. It is smart, thrilling, and a bit sad. It will not blow the roof off the place, but at the end of the day, it pays respect to the notion that even the safest place in our world may still have secrets.
Crawlspace can currently be seen on Hulu.