1 July 2007 | drownnnsoda
Probably Craven's strangest movie
"The People Under The Stairs" is a delightfully oddball horror flick that centers on a young boy nicknamed Fool, who lives in a dilapidating apartment in the inner-city ghetto with his family and dying mother. The greedy landlords of the apartment complex plan on kicking Fool and his family out, so he and a family friend, Leroy (Ving Rhames) hatch a plan to break into the landlords' spooky large house (which was formerly a funeral home) to steal a coin collection supposedly hidden somewhere in there. But they get more than they bargained for when they discover the man and woman living there kidnap young children and lock them inside the cellar. What ensues is a bizarre battle between Fool and the landlords as he tries to save all of the abused, deformed people who have been locked inside all their life.
"The People Under The Stairs" is one wild trip, and I say that because it really truly is. Written and directed by horror legend Wes Craven, I'd have to say that this his strangest film, and I think most would agree. The entire script is quite off-the-wall and very strange, but I admire that quality about it. The story is actually pretty unique, I can confidently say I've never seen a film like this before. While the storyline may be a little hard to sink your teeth into, if you set aside logic and just watch the movie for what it is, it is quite a neat little horror movie. For one, it has a surreal atmosphere that adds to its overall quirkiness, and it has a certain effect that I've never really experienced before. It's a bizarre movie to say the least, but I think that might be why I enjoyed it so much. The characters are twisted, and the dark, musky setting in the old house is a perfect place for the story to unfold. Plus there is also some dark comedy to be found here as well. In fact, at times this movie seems like more of a seriously twisted black comedy, but I'd say it's a cross between both of these genres.
Brandon Adams leads the cast as a thirteen year old boy who is caught up in the battle with the psychotic landlords and is surprisingly good, especially considering his age. A.J. Langer plays Alice, the only child in the house that isn't neglected and locked away, and is also good. The actors playing the mother/woman and dad/man are excellent in their bizarre and over-the-top roles, and Ving Rhames is decent with what screen time he has. There are some excellent sequences in this movie as well, mostly the chase scenes within the walls and labyrinth of passageways and whatnot inside the house. I'd like to point out the special effects as well which were very well done, as was the makeup on the deformed, former-"children" of the landlords, who looked very disgusting. As for the ending, it is also over-the-top and a bit silly, but the entire movie is, really, so this goes along with the flow of the movie well. The film itself as a whole seems to have some sort of deeper meaning behind all of the psychotic and twisted elements - as for me, I have my ideas of what it may be trying to say, but I think it can be interpreted different ways. But it does seem to be trying to send some sort of message, whatever that may be.
Overall, "The People Under The Stairs" is an immensely entertaining but very bizarre and offbeat little horror flick. It isn't perfect and it is a little out there, but if you can suspend your disbelief for a couple of hours and enjoy a twisted, almost fairytale-like horror movie, this can be a fun experience. But make sure you don't take it too literally, because it is a very strange movie. All things considered though, I dug it. 7/10.