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  • Gareth Crook

The People Under the Stairs (1991) - 6/10

Fool (Brandon Quintin Adams) is a young boy with a sick mother and a single parent older sister, living in an apartment block that the owner, The Man (Everett McGill) wants to tear down for something more profitable. Fool is under the impression that if he can find some money, he can stave off eviction. His neighbourhood is full of drugs and pimps, like Leroy (Ving Rhames). Rumour has it the big bad landlord has gold in his house and Leroy has a plan involving Fool to get it. Personally I’d stay clear. The Man and his sister (Wendy Robie) are nuts. Their long suffering daughter Alice (A.J. Langer) can verify this… as I suspect can the people trapped in the walls of their house. It’s proper disturbing, but also pretty funny, largely down to the double act of Leroy and Fool, who soon find themselves in The Man’s house, full with its myriad of devilish secrets. With every creak and every door slowly opened, you’re begging for them to get out, before they get too deep. It’s very American, but plays well to it. The scary thing being the plausibility of it all. In fact I believe Wes Craven was inspired to write this by true events, which really is scary. Trapped in a house of horrors with two yahoo nutcases. Fool soon finds that his only hope may come from the unlikeliest of places. Truth be told it could be a lot more effective if it dialled things back a little. Things get a bit too comic book caricatured in places, but it still works. It’s like Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Home Alone, which could be amazing… but it’s just really good. Horrors work best when they have purpose and meaning, The People Under the Stairs has plenty of both.


6/10


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