By David Dent
‘What’s in Your Basement?’ runs the ad line for this dark, rather nasty little independent horror movie.
And the answer is ‘well I don’t have a basement, but if I did I wouldn’t want it to contain anything like the horrific being in this movie!’
Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth (Caitlin Williams) and her younger sister Sam (Chalet Lizette Brannan) live in their grandfather’s house in rural Michigan, together with their mother, the verbally and physically abusive alcoholic Brandi (Eve Mauro). Father has disappeared and the three live an uneasy life, with Liz splitting her time either waiting on her mother or cowering from Brandi’s outbursts with Sam in their room upstairs. All three have crosses carved into their foreheads.
Sam hears noises in the next room and also sees a horrible vision of a figure in the bathtub. Both become convinced that there’s another entity in the house and that it may be occupying the basement. The girls know nothing about their family’s history, but the discovery of various items in the attic convince them that there is something terribly wrong going on and that the family may be harboring a terrible secret.
And they’d be right, although to disclose that secret would spoil the movie’s reveal. All I can mention is that if you thought the clown in this year’s movie Terrifier was, er, terrifying, you may need to recalibrate. Crepitus (the word is actually a medical term for a grating sound or sensation produced by friction between bone and cartilage or the fractured parts of a bone, a sound heard to rather chilling effect in the movie) is a claustrophobic and tense hour and a half.
Little is explained until the end, and even then much of the detail is left to viewers’ imaginations. Cast wise the three female cast members – and for most of the time they’re the ones holding the film up – are amazing, the movie playing like a wonky sadistic domestic drama for much of its length. And Crepitus, when he appears, is a truly frightening figure, particularly as there is some doubt as to whether he exists or is some dream demon conjured by the appalling family circumstances.
Crepitus is director Haynze Whitmore’s first feature, and while there are a few pacing issues it’s otherwise an assure debut. Recommended and very creepy, and a nice nod to the 1965 movie She at the film’s finale.