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“They Crawl Beneath” is a fun popcorn flick that doesn’t try to be anything more than a tense and satisfying creature feature.

For many movies, I try to go in as blind as possible. That means no trailers and gauging my interest from little more than a poster and plot synopsis.

In this day and age of streaming, giving us the ability to watch whatever we want whenever we want from the comfort of home — without spending a small fortune at the theater — it’s the Golden Age of experimentation. You can, and arguably should, take risks, branch out from your comfort zone, and give films a try you may have otherwise passed on.

They Crawl Beneath is a film tailor-made for streaming and taking a chance on, even if you don’t know much about it. The trailer gives you just enough to judge whether or not it looks like something you might enjoy. And I’ll keep this review spoiler-free and high level so as not to ruin your viewing experience.

As for me, while it might not have been a film I would have gone out of my way to seek out, I’m glad I gave it a go. I found it to be a well-made, one-room piece with some nice tension. It puts our lead in a terrible situation, made worse by the sudden appearance of aggressive and venomous mutant worms.

It reminded me of Tremors (and who doesn’t like Tremors?), recognizing it had to do a load of exposition dumping to set the scene and get us to the main storyline.

That story revolves around a man, Danny (Joseph Almani), who is trapped by a car and faced with the twin menace of extremely aggressive worms and earthquakes.

It starts brightly, with a brief introduction to Danny. He suffers a nightmare involving his mum, and we learn he recently nearly died in the line of duty as a policeman.

Once we get to the garage, we are introduced to one of the worms, albeit in a junior size. Luckily, it’s captured and taken to a local lab for analysis.

By way of a scientist, we learn that the worms are not finished growing and possess a dangerous venom. Once bitten, a victim has just two hours before their body shuts down.

Yes, it’s all exposition at first. But it’s necessary and handled well, moving us along nicely to the main act in the garage.

We also briefly meet the lead’s love interest. His relationship is on rocky ground. She doesn’t want him to be a cop and die in the line of duty like his father. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, but director Dale Fabrigar is wise in moving us past the setup as quickly as possible.

We meet Danny’s uncle, whose car the pair are working on. Despite a nice turn by the talented Michael Paré, there’s not much to do before the quake hits, trapping them both in the garage.

Once our worms turn in, they are suitably icky with a great design.

In some ways, they resemble the ‘grabbers’ from Tremors. In my book, that’s definitely not a bad thing.

The worms do exactly what they need to do and don’t stay on the screen too long. They are effective and fit the tight environment of the garage.

Without giving too much away, we follow the lead as he changes his focus from not caring about how he affects others with his career choice to his fervent desire to survive the hellish situation at all costs and repair his relationships.

We watch him struggle to deal with being trapped and realize no one is coming to his aid. As you might expect, the standard means of communication fail, building tension by creating a perilous situation.

There are no big surprises here. Genre fans will easily guess how it will all turn out. But that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining to watch.

The film is well-paced, competently made, and boasts a compelling and convincing story. It’s not perfect, but I truly appreciate the effort that went into making They Crawl Beneath and found it enjoyable to watch.

It’s the kind of film that doesn’t ask a lot from its viewers, making it a great weekend watch with pizza and popcorn.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3
This practical effects-driven sci-fi creature feature emerges on digital, Blu-ray, and DVD on October 4th. 

WRITTEN BY MARK YOUNG

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