DVD Review: Crawlspace (2012, Dir. Justin Dix)

Crawlspace

Did you know Australia has their own version of Area 51?

Me neither.

And like that notorious American military base it’s strategically situated out in the middle of a flat, desert landscape that makes it impossible for anything “human” to sneak up on it. Google Pine Gap and its connection to aliens and alien technology is  pops up quite readily.

I’m sure this place has been covered in the myriad of documentaries that have been made about aliens and Area 51, but to my limited knowledge Crawlspace appears to be the first fictional movie where it plays an integral part in the narrative.  That can’t be. Area 51 has made it into numerous fictional movies and I find it hard to believe Pine Gap hasn’t been used in some fashion in some other science fiction and/or horror movies, but googling ‘movies about Pine Gap’ doesn’t yield much other than Justin Dix’s movie.

That’s very interesting, which would mean Crawlspace is, at least, groundbreaking on that level alone.

I reviewed this movie once at the beginning of the year, when it was still playing the festival circuit, thanks to a screener IFC was able to supply. In the back of my mind I had a feeling, though, I was going to revisit this movie again for another review because any mass market DVD release was probably going to have extra features on it, like, commentaries and hopefully some featurettes. And that’s exactly what happened when MPI announced they were putting it out.

My first review, which can be found on Cine-Apocalypse’s website, is long and full of spoilers, this review here will be short and have none at all, but will focus on the extras the DVD was supplied with.

Something has gone terribly wrong within the underground base at Pine Gap in Australia, and a team of well-trained military types is sent in to find out what that is and fix it. The team is led by Romeo (Ditch Davey), whose back-story is fraught with a lot of pain and loss. Team members Fourpack (Eddie Baroo), Kid (Fletcher Humphrys), Wiki (Peta Seargent) and Elvis (John Brumpton) are a lot less angst ridden and generally likable.

Once they all get down into the base itself, they learn something, or someone, or a bunch of somethings or someones have massacred a lot of the “employees.” Along the way they eventually find a survivor in the form of Amber Clayton, who plays E.V.E. ( I cannot tell you what those initials stand for because it would give you a clue to what is going on). She’s an amnesiac who has vague memories of being intimately connected to Romeo and vice versa. The scar on her skull also says she’s undergone some kind of operation.

More survivors are found. Caesar, (Nicholas Bell), Matthews (Samual Johnson) and a woman named Emily (Ngaire Dawn Fair) who says very little but refuses to leave Caesar’s side. Caesar and Matthews are scientists and what they tell Romeo and his team about the chaos going on around them is hard to swallow to say the least and what really made me stand up and take notice at the rest of this movie.

This is as far as I can lead you all. To say anymore would destroy the twists and secrets. Well, I think, I can tell you some things to pay attention to as you watch. Nosebleeds are important. So is the surveillance camera footage that opens up the movie, and pay close attention to the first few scenes in the very beginning where Eve wakes up. And . . . last but not least, the crazed, skinned ape attack!

At its core you’ve seen this movie before. A bunch of trained soldiers trapped in a locale and besieged by unknown forces, generally a monster of some kind. Thank James Cameron’s Aliens for starting it all. This movie also proves you can take a well worn concept flip it on it’s head and do something that makes it all feel quite fresh and unique.

Here in the U.S., MPI Home Video is only releasing it in standard DVD format. The U.K., however, will be getting a blu-ray release of it March of 2014, as I understand it, through Revolver Entertainment. The movie is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer with a 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. Didn’t have a problem with either one. Subtitles are presented in English and Spanish only.

First up you get two commentaries, one with director, Justin Dix and actors, Eddie Baroo, Amber Clayton and Fletcher Humphrys, and one with Dix and editor, Dave Redman. Both commentaries are informative, but the one that’s the most fun is the one with the actors. Usually those commentaries are, look at any one of the Evil Dead DVDs to see what I’m talking about.

On the back of the DVD it’s stated there’s something called Behind The Scenes included, it’s even stated that way on the actual disc, too, leading me to believe this was just a breezy a 5-10 minute featurette. I couldn’t have been more wrong. What you get is a comprehensive 30-minute documentary called, ‘Inside The Crawlspace,’ that pretty much covers everything and anything concerned with the making of this fine movie.

We start off the doc with director, Justin Dix and Greg Mclean talking about the genesis of the project. There were three film companies involved in creating this movie (Wicked Of Oz Studios, Maker Films, Wolfcreek Pictures) and producers/co-producers from most of them—Steve Topic, John Finmore, James Hoppe, Pippa Sheen and Nicholas Sherry—contribute what they did on the movie.

The Director of Photography, Art Director is interviewed as well as Rolland Pike (art director), once the doc moves into showing the sets being built. He gives props to construction manager, Dean Norman and Head Scenic Artist, Janine Marshal for what they did.

The doc includes on set interview and portions of the actors audition’s tapes, followed by the first ever table read with all of them. We even get to see them go through weapons and tactics trainer, with military advisor, Al Cooke.

The prosthetic FX is obviously covered (all too briefly, in my opinion) and then we move into the chronicling of the editing phase with film editor, Dave Redman, which lasted from May to August of 2011. A major effect was added during pick-up shoots later on. The change was made because the obvious, “initial effect” gave away the scifi elements too early.

Lastly, you get a theatrical trailer for the movie as well trailers for other MPI releases like, Would You Rather, The Jeffrey Dahmer Files, Welcome To The Punch and On The Road.

 

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