‘It Crawls Beneath’ Is A Delightfully Old School Creature Feature
Director Dale Fabrigar and writer Tricia Aurand left a strong impression at Horror-on-Sea with It Crawls Beneath, an effective old-school monster movie that takes us back to the glorious days of practical effects. If you have a fondness for retro creature features, you are probably going to be in for a great time.
Joseph Almani stars as Danny, a former police officer who’s dealing with a tough break-up with his partner, Gwen (Karlee Eldridge), and disagreements with his mother, Angela (Natalia Bilbao). Feeling lost and without purpose, Danny spends his days fixing rundown cars with his uncle Bill (Michael Paré), who might just be hiding something from his nephew. After an apparent earthquake appears to submerge their garage underground, Danny and a critically injured Bill son find themselves fighting for their lives when gigantic worm-like creatures lurking nearby start to sense them as easy prey.
It goes without saying that Almani gave his performance as Danny everything he had. You feel the character’s desperation as he frantically struggles to survive within the confines of the submerged garage. One particularly nail-biting sequence where he uses a pole to grab food from an out-of-reach refrigerator will certainly help you to appreciate that Danny is a human who is clearly struggling against the odds while facing inhuman foes. And this is something Almani’s strong performance constantly reminds us of.
The fact that Danny spent a significant portion of the film with his legs trapped underneath his car almost made It Crawls Beneath seem like a horror retelling of 127 Hours, albeit with the true story elements replaced by giant killer worms. Most of the other cast members also did passable jobs, especially when some shocking revelations regarding certain characters come to light.
Anyone with a fondness for practical effects will appreciate the creatures on display, which were brought to life through a mixture of animatronics and inventive photography. Looking just about plausible enough to be something that could actually exist in a subterranean ecosystem and horrific enough to satisfy horror fans, these wriggling invertebrates will no doubt leave monster movie aficionados squirming with delight, while everyone else will probably be squirming in disgust. Unlike actual worms, these things had teeth. And they were certainly not afraid to use them.
However, it needs to be said that the inclusion of the monsters almost felt like an afterthought at times, as most of the focus seemed to be on Danny’s personal issues and the discoveries he unearths while trapped in the garage. There is certainly nothing wrong with learning more about Danny as a person. But his family and relationship issues often took precedence over the giant freaking worms which were trying to eat him, and that may be offsetting to viewers hoping for a more horror-focused monster movie.
Danny’s primary means of defense against the invading worms (or whatever they are) is an old-school magnum revolver. While It Crawls Beneath was hardly an action movie, it was still great fun to see the entrapped Danny blasting the hideous creatures to hell. The film was clearly made by gun enthusiasts, because at one point, Bill gushed over the distinct style and personality of the revolver he handed to Danny, as opposed to the bland and characterless sidearm his nephew would have been given during his tenure as a police officer. Regardless of how you feel about guns in real life, it still comes as a relief to watch a film created by people who actually know their firearms. So don’t expect any unrealistic action movie tropes as Danny uses the revolver to fight for his life.
Although Danny’s personal issues occasionally take priority over the monster movie elements, It Crawls Beneath is still a brilliantly old-school monster movie featuring a great central performance and some truly inspired creature designs. This already has the markings of a cult classic, and monster movie aficionados will definitely need to seek out It Crawls Beneath.
It Crawls Beneath was a delightfully old school monster movie featuring a strong central performance and some classic creature designs.