Tuesday, October 04, 2022

They Crawl Beneath

Bugs and worms tend to grow large out in the desert, like in It Came from the Desert or the Tremors series. At least that franchise had some humor to help the wacky premise go down easy and some survivalists, who were properly supplied for a siege. Unfortunately, the Barstow cop at the center of this film gets caught flat-footed in Dale Fabrigar’s They Crawl Beneath, which releases today on VOD and DVD.

Danny Moritz has been crashing with his slacker Uncle Bill, while he and his girlfriend Gwen Bishop have been fighting about everything and nothing. Inconveniently, old Bill did not have a proper jack, so when the mutant worms attack while they are working under a vintage muscle car, Bill gets crushed to death, leaving Moritz alone, precariously pinned underneath, and potentially at the mercy of the toxic worm-things.

Frustratingly, the film is stuck right there with Moritz, trapped under a car, in Uncle Bill’s garage, which is sealed up like a prison, for unlikely reasons. Of course, Moritz passes in and out of consciousness right when his colleagues from the force come to check on him. Indeed, nearly everything about Tricia Aurand’s screenplay will have viewers slapping their foreheads, especially when Moritz starts arguing with his mental projection of Uncle Bill. It might be time to temporarily retire this device, considering how effectively
Panhandle and The Flight Attendant recently employed it.

It is too bad the narrative is manipulative to the point of annoying, because the practical creature effects are really cool. It shows a low budget creepy-crawler film get look professional. Sadly, the quality of writing is not much better than drive-in staples like
Kingdom of Spiders.

Joseph Almani labors like a pack mule playing Moritz, but this film gives him too much weight to carry on his own. Michael Pare brings a reliably likable meatheadedness to Uncle Bill, which is why his later scenes as an angry hallucination just do not fit with the rest of the film.

The simple truth is the film just doesn’t work, aside from the practical, slimy effects, which are great. The claustrophobic
127 Hours-Buried gambit does not pay off. Not recommended, They Crawl Beneath releases today (10/4) on DVD and VOD.