Dec 15, 2008

The People Under the Stairs

Wes Craven is known for many films, mostly Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream, The Hills Have Eyes, and Last House on the Left. I admire him for creating many great tales of terror but I feel that many of his films lack of certain quality of horrific enjoyment. All these films have their commentary's but none of which is more evident then in The People Under the Stairs. I remember this film for the gimp suits (later stolen from Tarantino), combat shotguns, and the black lead kid. Other than that, the film was a blur in my head. I have begun treating myself to classics that I recall for that addicting concentration of nostalgia.

Truth is, The People Under the Stairs is far from what I remember. Racially, few horror films top the culturally ridiculous situations this film provides. Under the guise of a fairy-tale, this film follows a Black family that is getting evicted all thanks to the evil greedy White family. Kwanzaa enthusiast Leroy (Ving Rhames) finds a treasure map during a liquor store robbery (He would). Enlisting the help of a child, he plans to demonstrate his lack of parenting skills by breaking in the house to find gold coins. Upon entering the evil whitey's house, people are killed and deformed feral creatures exist under the stairs with no exit visible.

At the end of the film, the black community collaborates to purge the evil from the only white folks on the block. At first glance, one could skip over the fact that The People Under the Stairs is indeed an urban horror film. It's a bit bizarre for Craven to create a film like this. He's never done anything similar and he has recently talked about an upcoming sequel allegedly concerning an adult Alice. Ideally, a film from that standpoint couldn't be hard to make. Combine elements of May with that of the original script and you got yourself a decent follow-up of depravity.

Aside from the racial absurdity, The People Under the Stairs finds itself being an amendable horror effort syncing insanity with fleshy disorders and a magical house of traps akin to a demonic version of Home Alone. This nuclear family from hell creates a true feeling of suspense as our tiny hero hides in labyrinthine crevices in the wall. The set pieces are truly marvelous providing a sense of marvel, mystery, and easily reflective of creating forts as a child. If you could permit a child to watch a single horror film, this would be almost kid tested - mother approved.

The People Under the Stairs is a horror film that is easy to swallow and become engrossed in. This surreal fairy-tale of coming-to-age matter is nothing new but never been so starkly shot with such brutality behind it. This is perhaps my favorite Wes Craven film for it being so immersible in its own story. Horror reaches new levels of black comedy (not urban comedy, mind you). Everything ends smoothly if not for the disappointing ending of the C.H.U.D. looking creatures escaping into society with the intent of relaying a pointless message. The People Under the Stairs is Craven's greatest visual accomplishment as well as being a trippy horror film.



Anonymous said...

Great movie here. Loved it as a kid and still love it today. The film is so hard to take seriously and truly is a "black comedy". Everitt McGill running around in tight leather bondage ranting and raving with a shotgun still cracks me up to this day.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

why couldn`t you have shown a picture of a.j. langer naked, she was such a hot chick back in `91 (3 years before "my so-called life").