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The Girl in the Crawlspace

USA 2018
produced by
Henrique Couto for Midwest Film Venture
directed by John Oak Dalton
starring Erin R. Ryan, John Bradley Hambrick, Joni Durian, Tom Cherry, Jeff Rapkin, Joe Skeen, Chelsi Kern, Clifford Lowe, Jeff Kirkendall, Andrew N. Shearer, Rachael Redolfi, Jeff Shull, Katy Lynne Wolfe, Joe Kidd, Iabou Windimere
written by John Oak Dalton, music by Ray Mattis

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Psychiatrist Kristen (Joni Durian) and her scriptwriter husband Johnny (John Bradley Hambrick) move from Hollywood back to the small town she grew up in - because he, a recovering user, needs some distance between himself and the drug-fueled Hollywood society, while she claims she wants to help her community, but really also sees opportunity here since the village has recently been haunted by the "Crawlspace Killer", a psycho who abducted women and small boys who were never to be found again - until one of the women, Jill (Erin R. Ryan) has managed to escape, and the local sheriff, Woody (Tom Cherry), has killed the killer coming after her. So now, Kristen is treating all the grieving parents to help them cope with the loss (and eventually she hopes to write a book about it of course), and soon even Jill shows up on her doorstep and gradually starts to trust Kristen - yet in their sessions, she only talks about movies she has seen, as she claims in the crawlspace she's been kept in there was a TV and the killer has played her DVDs.

In the meantime, Johnny feels more and more irritated by country life, and the fact that he's not using and wouldn't even know where to get drugs doesn't make things easier. He actually wants to visit an AA meeting, but instead stumbles into a Dungeons & Dragons like boardgame group - and joins in, having nothing better to do anyways. Eventually he finds out that Jill is a former member of the group and she considers joining again - which forms an unexpected bond between them.

Kristen finds out the films Jill tells her about aren't actually real at all, and she asks Johnny to try and find out if there's a hidden message in her stories that might unlock her brain and shed some light on the yet unexplained elements of the whole case. Reluctantly, Johnny agrees, and against all odds he succeeds, too - and finds out the actual Crawlspace Killer was not who everyone believed it to be - but he also finds out that more likely than not the actual killer has abducted Kristen ...

 

Slowburn in approach, this is nevertheless a very tight piece of genre cinema, a character-driven thriller that plays a bit like a jigsaw puzzle where many pieces only get meaning much later in the narrative to make this quite a fascinating watch. And putting an emphasis on narration rather than spectacle and jump scares really works here to keep the audience involved in the story, helped by a subtle directorial effort that gives the characters room to develop. And of course, a solid cast also helps to make this movie very worthwhile.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD