Review by Sean Boelman
B-movie horror flicks are a dime a dozen this time of year, giving horror fans plenty to sift through in the search of the few great films to come through the cracks. Unfortunately, Dale Fabrigar’s They Crawl Beneath is not going to be one of them, as it is unable to find itself in any satisfying way.
The movie follows a man who gets trapped in his garage after an earthquake, only for things to get worse when venomous worm creatures begin to emerge from the crack in the ground. It doesn’t take much for a claustrophobic survival thriller like this to work, but in attempting to do something different, it manages to fail on even those low expectations.
While this premise may sound like a decent creature feature set-up, the final product is only about 20% creature feature with the other 80% being a bland survival thriller. It’s almost as if Tricia Aurand had written a screenplay about someone getting pinned under their car, then it was decided that the stakes weren’t high enough and the way to fix it was by throwing in generic Tremors worms.
In most survival thrillers, the character development is pretty sparse because the only thing it needs to be effective is basic human sympathy. However, given that the film starts with a very different tone and story from the remainder, the audience will be immediately thrown off because they don’t know who they are supposed to care about.
Joseph Almani’s performance in the leading role is rough. Movies that are largely one-man shows require a specific type of actor, and Almani does not have the charm or screen presence to pull it off. The only recognizable name in the cast is Michael Paré, whose performance is so short that it’s negligible.
Films like this live or die on establishing a sense of claustrophobia, and They Crawl Beneath comes up short in that regard. It doesn’t help that the first twenty minutes are a bunch of exposition explaining what these monster worms are before we even get into the garage that’s the movie’s main setting, but Fabrigar really struggles to find the balance between expansive and confined.
The creature work — when there are creatures to be found — is surprisingly pretty decent. Sure, their design is pretty straightforward and bland, but they look solid considering the low budget that the film obviously has. The shots that are CGI-based rather than practical don’t work very well.
They Crawl Beneath has some decent effects worth, but apart from that, there’s not really much to recommend here. There aren’t enough creatures for it to work as a creature feature, and it’s not claustrophobic enough to be an effective survival thriller. All in all, it’s just a frustrating experience.
They Crawl Beneath is now available on VOD.