Starring: Raleigh Holmes, Steven Weber, Sterling Beaumon, Lori Laughlin, Jonathan Silverman, Paul James
Also known as: Crawlspace (US title)
TIM – “You don’t fuck with another man’s home.”
ALDON – “I was about to say the same thing myself.”
There are a number of reasons I tend to watch indie horror films I’ve never heard of.
Part of it is down to the complete lack of knowledge of what’s coming next. I enjoy movies more when I don’t even know the basic plot.
It’s also because I like seeing what sort of ideas filmmakers can come up with when they only have a relatively small budget.
Best of all though, when you watch hundreds of films and most of them are shite, it’s even more satisfying than normal when you come across a hidden gem. Cue The Attic.
Kayla has come home from college to help her family move to a new house: her dad’s “dream home”.
As they’re unpacking boxes in the garage at their new home, Kayla’s dad informs her that the house’s previous owners left after both their young children drowned in the swimming pool. Delightful!
You see, after said horrible accident took place, the previous residents’ lives understandably took a fairly drastic nosedive and the bank eventually foreclosed on their house, forcing them to move out.
What Kayla’s dad neglects to tell her, though – mainly because he doesn’t know it himself – is that the father of the previous household, Aldon is still living in their house. Given the film title, I’ll let you guess where.
The first half of The Attic‘s plot is presented to us in an interesting way. We’re shown fairly early on that Aldon is living in the attic, watching this new family through the air vents.
This means we know what’s going on long before Kayla’s family do, so when they start getting confused when they can’t figure out who took the bins out, or who’s used up the entire roll of cling-film that’s just been bought, we already know the answer.
In case you can’t tell, this particular squatter is a couple of McNuggets short of a Happy Meal, so as he continues to watch this new family every day – particularly the three children – it becomes clear that this isn’t going to end cleanly.
Sure enough, things get hairy when he decides the nosy old crone living next door knows too much. Breaking into her house, he… well, let’s just say I’ve never seen a vacuum cleaner being used like that before.
Things get even worse when the babysitter turns up and fails to properly watch the youngest child, leaving him in a room with his older brother’s paintball gun. Livid at this complete lack of care and attention, he decides an apt punishment is to wait until she gets to her car at the end of her shift and… ahem.
Usually, being a fan of horror films and running a site that mainly reviews films of said genre, I take great pleasure in informing you of the grisly details of any kills that take place on-screen.
With The Attic though, I almost feel obliged not to. There are ‘only’ five killings in total, but they’re so brilliantly inventive that they’re easily the most memorable aspect of the film and so to spoil them would ruin that effect.
Needless to say, you won’t look at a Hoover, a car door, a garbage disposal, hair curlers or Christmas lights in the same way again. Curious? Good, that was my intention.
You see, I want you to watch The Attic. I’ve sifted my way through so much indie pish that now I’ve finally found a truly brilliant offering I’m championing this little bastard like nothing on earth.
It isn’t just the brilliantly inventive deaths: I’m not that shallow (though given how many tens of thousands I’ve seen in horror films over the years, the fact these impressed me should say something).
It’s the performances too. The talented Raleigh Holmes is completely believable as Kayla – so many actresses try their best to give ‘normal’ performances and almost all of them fail because it’s much harder than you’d think but you buy this one.
It sounds like a backhanded compliment, but it’s an entirely… um, fronthanded one: at no point does it feel like Holmes is trying to act.
The rest of the family is great too. Sterling Beaumon (who played ‘Young Ben’ in Lost) is perfectly irritating as her tearaway teenage brother.
Lori Loughlin (Full House) and Jonathan Silverman (Weekend At Bernie’s) are spot on as the typical idyllic modern American parents, and little Xander Stolberg is the most bloody adorable child actor I’ve seen in a while: it’s so refreshing to see a kid I wouldn’t necessarily dream of punting.
There’s only one major sticking point for me, and that’s the ending. The Attic works perfectly as a standalone story, but the filmmakers just couldn’t resist putting in a final ‘twist’ to hint at a sequel that, for all we know, will never come. It’s perfectly fine to draw a line under some stories, and I wish The Attic had done this.
Still, don’t let that put you off. The Attic is a nifty little indie thriller that’s well acted, suspenseful, has some clever moments and features some of the most inventive kills I’ve seen in a film for a while. Um, you know, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Attic’s rating earns it a place in the hallowed That Was A Bit Mental Hall Of Fame. Click here to see which other films have made the grade.
HOW CAN I SEE IT?
To the best of my knowledge, The Attic isn’t available to purchase yet in the US, and can only be seen on Showtime under its American title of Crawlspace. Here in the UK though, it was recently released on DVD – you can buy it here.
SHOW ME THE TRAILER: