Welcome to Friday Night Flix, where there’s never a need to leave the couch or put on pants. Each week I’ll recommend an under-the-radar movie currently available on one or more of the major streaming platforms. They won’t all be classics, but every selection is guaranteed to be 100% watchable or your money back.
Did you know Australia has its very own Area 51? Me neither! It’s called Pine Gap, which I find adorably pastoral. I’m surprised this place has been in existence for 25 years, yet I’ve never come across a movie that exploited its reputation for classified operations until now. Enter, Crawlspace (Netflix).
Wasting no time at all, a terse title card informs us that, for reasons unknown, the government has lost all communications with Pine Gap. Fuck exposition, man. A boatload of commandos chopper out to the site. Awesomely, they’re given nothing more than a list of detainees and orders to exterminate the lot of them. No one has a problem with this. But oh ho, things are not what they seem in the narrow confines of the duct system in which this movie inexplicably and almost exclusively plays out. (“I agree it doesn’t make sense to have everyone crawling through vents instead of just using the hallways. Then again, we already paid for the domain name…”)
Stuff like that happens more frequently than I’d like, requiring some substantial leaps of logic. One minute the facility is on total lockdown so there’s absolutely no way out, until, oops, my bad, there’s the exit right there. If you can get past all that, Crawlspace is fun in a twisty but familiar way. (To my surprise, the black eyeball effect is alive and well. Adobe thanks you for purchasing After Effects!) Perhaps the best recommendation I can give Crawlspace is to describe it as Aliens meets Scanners, or perhaps Aliens meets Watchers. Definitely Aliens meets some movie with a perception-based title.
Added Bonus: Aside from gunning down civilians, which they are excellent at, the army men can’t shoot worth a damn. There are multiple scenes in which these highly trained operators are unable to hit targets less than 20 feet away and trapped in a ventilation shaft. If that’s even remotely close to reality, New Zealand should really think about invading Australia.