REVIEW BY JEREMIAH ROSARIO
I can honestly say that I haven't seen a film like this, much less one within the horror genre, all year. The Girl in the Crawl Space was incredibly refreshing, in part, because it didn't actually feel like a horror movie at all. Well, not in the traditional sense anyway. You see, Director John Oak Dalton is more concerned about telling a poignantly humanistic story, one completely grounded in reality, yet ultimately bearing certain genre qualities as a result of its subject matter. In this case - assault, abduction, abuse, the attempt at recovery, and the inability to cope. Therein, lies the horror.
The film opens with what I feel is, a sort of beginning-of-the-end moment. Jill’s escape from extended bondage and torment serving as the catalyst for events, forcefully and chaotically driving all those involved towards a fateful conclusion.
Initially, things move slowly, which is fine for a drama-reliant film like this since we’re given ample opportunity to really engage with each character—understand their motives. Jill, the broken survivor, is the key player around which all other plot points revolve. Her pain, and her link to the town she returns to, become a center-point for the story to coalesce. Caught within the wake of her violent past are “Kitty” (the local therapist) and Johnny (struggling screenwriter / former addict). It’s in the commonalities shared between the three that they’re able to symbiotically strengthen one another, crucially equipping them to tackle challenges both current and forthcoming.
On that last note we start to realize, perhaps things aren’t what they seem to be, and as the narrative peels away, more and more of the town’s underbelly is exposed. If there was any part of the film that encapsulated aspects traditionally found within the genre, the final act would be it. Things quickly grow dark in the last thirty minutes, and it isn’t long before paranoia and suspicion give way to disturbing revelation.
The Girl in the Crawl Space has got its problems, most of which come by as a result of the low budget production. Flatly clinical lighting and color grading, awkward dialogue delivery, and spotty sound (though we were assured this was still being worked on), but ultimately it manages to rise above its technical faults to deliver a rather compelling horror-lite psychological drama. John Dalton also demonstrates a promising knack for directing, so let’s hope we get to see him improve his craft with another outing. I’m definitely game.