Stars: Nicholas Bell, Ngaire Dawn Fair, John Brumpton, Eddie Baroo, Justin Batchelor, Amber Clayton, Ditch Davey | Written by Eddie Baroo, Justin Dix, Adam Patrick Foster | Directed by Justin Dix
Directed by award winning special effects supervisor Justin Dix (whose best known in the SFX community for his work on the Star Wars prequels) and lensed down-under in Australia, Crawlspace follows a group of elite soldiers sent to infiltrate and extract the lead science team from Pine Gap, Australia’s top secret underground military compound – think the Aussie equivalent of Area 51 – after it comes under attack from unknown forces. The mission is compromised after they encounter a young woman with no memory of who she is or how she came to be there. As they try to escape, the group quickly discovers all is not as it seems and the facility has become a testing ground for something far more sinister…
Australia was once known for its exploitation cinema with the likes of Turkey Shoot, Dead End Drive-In and Stunt Rock but nowadays the country is more likely to be known for its soap operas and kitchen-sink dramas than its genre flicks. So it’s always exciting to see a new genre film hit the market, and Crawlspace, which starts out as a sci-fi horror in the vein of James Cameron’s Aliens, is one hell of an ozploitation flick – starting with a bang and going at a mile a minute for the rest of its all-too-brief running time, never letting up on the action or the horror.
Crawlspace is a deceptive little film. On first glance it looks like the film is a solid homage to the aforementioned Aliens, but come the films final thirty minutes you realise its something altogether different. In fact the film shares a lot in common with a whole heap of genre flicks including, surprisingly, Brian De Palma’s The Fury and David Cronenberg’s Scanners. But unlike many derivative genre flicks, which would typically be called out for being “rip-offs”, the commonalities and influences here only help to cement the idea that this film is the work true fan-turned-filmmaker than someone looking to make a quick buck.
In lesser hands this “scientists run amok” tale could have been a complete mess but instead, not only is Crawlspace a great claustrophobic sci-fi horror, it also marks a return to form for Ozploitation cinema. Here’s hoping Dix sticks to directing more genre flicks in future… I know I’ll be watching.
Crawlspace is available on iTunes US and is set for a UK DVD and Blu-ray release on May 6th (postponed from April 1st).