An Average Movie-Goer’s Review
Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post
I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.
Today we’re looking at the 2016’s Within also known as Crawlspace
A family moves into a new house and starts to suspect something else already calls the house its home.
Is Within (2016) Scary?
Within is only scary if you just moved into a new house. There are maybe one or two jump scares toward the end of the movie but overall it tries to build a lingering sense of fear by hiding things in the background. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do it well.
The film opens with our main characters moving into a new home. We have widower John (played by Michael Vartan), his high school senior daughter Hannah (played by Erin Moriarty), and his second wife Melanie (played by Nadine Velazquez).
Hannah checks out her new room and we see the family cat, Monty, is too scared to come out of his carrying case which means that place is super haunted. While checking on the movers outside, John meets one of the neighbors and locksmith, Ray (played by Ronnie Gene Blevins), and helps fix his car.
That night as John and Melanie playfully argue about Melanie’s choice to put a rolling desk in front of a vent, Hannah is in the home office video chatting with her boyfriend Tommy (played by Blake Jenner). After losing service Hannah leaves the office but returns upon hearing clacking and finds someone toyed with a Newton’s cradle.
Later as the family has the traditional “just moved in” dinner, Chinese take-out, Hannah doesn’t mention the Newton’s cradle which I feel is something that should’ve been mentioned immediately. Melanie pours a bit of wine for everyone to toast their new house and we learn that Hannah is currently punished for underage drinking… and throwing a party that almost destroyed the last house. Where’s that movie?
Hannah returns to her room and finds one of her stuffed animals on the floor on the other side of the room. Meanwhile, John finds Monty meowing incessantly at a hanging picture that suddenly drops on the floor.
John thinks nothing of it because it’s not like animals have ever sensed danger… right? John picks up the picture and pushes the nail back into the wall. Later we see the nail being pushed back out on its own. DUN DUN DUNNN
That night as Hannah sleeps, something pulls the covers off of her and now we know this is one of those pervy ghosts. Hannah wakes up and doesn’t think anything of her covers being off.
Instead, she grabs her empty glass and heads downstairs for some water. By the way, when Hannah went to bed that glass was half full so either this ghost wants everyone to know it’s a pessimist or… hold on, can ghosts drink water?
As Hannah grabs some water she hears scratching from the glass door. Opening the curtain she sees Monty meowing outside and doesn’t notice someone standing directly behind her.
Hannah opens the door which triggers the alarm and apparently, the ghost (or intruder) is super fast because he’s gone in the split second it takes Hannah to turn around. John and Melanie run downstairs and help Hannah turn off the alarm. Before Hannah heads back upstairs she notices the rolling table that Melanie placed in front of the vent has moved.
The next morning John checks the fridge, finds all the leftover Chinese food is gone and doesn’t find that suspicious despite Melanie telling him she didn’t eat it. Hannah enters the room but instead of asking her about the missing food, John takes her to the garage.
Apparently, the previous owners abandoned the house and left all their stuff behind which was then stored in the garage. John had to buy the house “as-is” meaning all the previous stuff is now theirs and since Hannah is grounded, she will have to sort through all the stuff and throw it out.
A few hours later Melanie returns home and bumps into Ray who is coming by to replace the locks as a “thank you” for John fixing his car. As Ray is replacing the locks he basically tells Melanie that the locks he’s putting in suck and that he can sell them better ones. He then gets really sleazy and I can’t tell if he’s just a bad salesman or if he’s supposed to be creepy.
Hannah heads downstairs and finds Ray playing with her camera which he doesn’t even try to hide. Instead, Ray goes full creep and asks Hannah her name as he records her. Hannah tries to get her camera back as Melanie arrives and questions what is going on. Ray laughs it off and leaves the house stating that they don’t need to pay him yet for the locks.
That night as Hannah sleeps, we see her closet door open and we cut to the morning so that was pointless. We see a quick few seconds of Hannah sleeping without covers on and it feels like the director saying, “you get it, right? Do we need to show you something pulling her covers off again?” Hannah wakes up as she gets a text message from Tommy saying he’s 30 minutes away.
While Hannah showers, the same person who was behind Hannah when she let Monty in from outside, is once again watching her just as the bathroom lights go out. Hannah turns the lights back on and notices a handprint on the shower door.
Later Tommy arrives and Hannah tells him about the handprint but he dismisses it. As he leaves, one of the neighbors, Rosemary (played JoBeth Williams) stops by and drops off a welcome basket. Hannah then returns to clearing out the garage where she finds a picture of a family that used to own the house.
She’s interrupted by a kid from the neighborhood who asks her what it’s like living in the creepy house. I don’t watch the trailers of these movies but I’m 100% sure this is in the trailer because of how awkwardly forced it is. Post-Watch update: It’s in the trailer
Cut to Hannah telling Melanie that the kid also told her that one of the families that used to live there was murdered. Melanie tells her that it can’t be true as John walks in and asks what’s going on. Turns out that John knew about the murders but didn’t tell Melanie about them.
He tries to calm everyone down by saying it happened over ten years ago and two other families have lived there but everyone gets pissed. Hannah points out that the last family disappeared but John says that they probably just couldn’t afford to pay their mortgage.
That reasoning doesn’t satisfy Hannah because she’s seen some shit but still doesn’t mention the weird stuff going on and leaves. Melanie also gets upset with John and calls him an asshole before leaving.
Later Hannah watches a video of the news report from ten years ago that details the murdered family. The report states the family consisting of husband, wife, and their 17-year-old daughter were killed in a murder-suicide orchestrated by the father who hung himself in the attic. Hannah then realizes the family is the same as the picture she found earlier.
Hannah’s research is interrupted by sounds coming from the attic and assuming it’s Monty, she goes up into the attic to check. The attic door suddenly closes on its own as Hannah starts to hear someone else’s heavy breathing. A hand appears from behind a box and Hanna freaks out.
John and Melanie open the attic door and Hannah comes running down telling John that someone is up there. John checks but finds no one and assumes that finding out about the murders is making her imagine things.
The following day Melanie takes Hannah out to help her relax. Hannah tells her about the strange noises and things moving and Melanie reveals she’s also been experiencing those things but doesn’t think the house is haunted. WTF do you think is going on then Melanie?
Their shared bonding over a possible haunted house is interrupted as Melanie gets a call that the house alarm has gone off. The two arrive back at the house and see Ray watching them from his house as he taunts them about the “false alarm”.
That night, assuming that Ray set off the alarm, Melanie demands John call another locksmith and have them change the locks. The next day as a locksmith is changing the locks, an angry Ray confronts John about hiring a different locksmith.
In the house, Hannah enters her room and discovers her camera is mysteriously back on her desk. Checking the videos she finds one from Tommy telling her he loves her, the video that Ray took when she first met him, and another video of the family sleeping as a distorted male voice narrates a tour of the house.
Assuming it was Ray who took the video, John bangs on Ray’s door but there’s no answer. Looking through his window he sees the house is virtually empty save for a couple of sleeping bags and some lawn chairs. It turns out Ray and his wife were squatters.
The next day before John leaves for work, he gives Hannah back the keys to the car and rescinds her punishment. While Hannah heads out to meet with Tommy, Ray uses the opportunity to break into the house.
Before Hannah gets to Tommy he calls her and informs her the event they’re going to is formal, which means she has to return to the house to change. This feels like information Tommy should have known days in advance but whatever.
Hannah arrives back at the house and doesn’t notice Ray hiding in the hallway. While she changes, Ray watches her from the hallway and doesn’t notice the attic door opening. He’s then attacked by another intruder who places a bag over his head and jams the claw end of a hammer into it. Hannah hears none of this and doesn’t notice the killer drag Ray into the attic.
That night the killer enters Hannah’s room while she sleeps and stands over her allowing his spit to fall into her mouth… you probably think that sentence is gross but at least you didn’t watch it happen.
So there is no ghost and this guy is just living in the walls of the house. We get confirmation of this when he enters the kitchen, drinks milk from the fridge, then enters the walls through the vents.
The next day Hannah enters the garage where it looks like she’s made absolutely no progress and is surprised by Tommy. Since Hannah’s parents are gone, teenagers gonna teenager, and the two have sex not realizing the killer is watching them from Hannah’s closet.
Afterward, Hannah shows Tommy the picture of the family that was killed in the house because there’s no better post-sex pillow talk than pictures of dead people. Tommy notices someone in the window of the picture but they’re interrupted when they hear John returning home.
Hannah heads downstairs to distract John so Tommy can look for a way out but unbeknownst to them, the killer has a better idea.
As Hannah gets downstairs, the killer grabs Tommy. That night John and Melanie head out for a work dinner and leave Hannah home alone. The first thing she does is grab a wine bottle from the welcome basket and start drinking.
Later, after hearing a sound coming from the kitchen, Hannah searches the house meanwhile we see someone (definitely the killer) drop something in her drink. Hannah returns to the couch, finishes her drink, and quickly passes out. The killer carries her to her room and lays in bed with her.
The next morning Hannah wakes up feeling drugged but is unable to tell John since he’s pissed that she was drinking again. John grounds her and leaves the house. Hannah returns to investigating the family that was killed and discovers medical records showing they actually had a son, David, who was agoraphobic and had violent tendencies.
Hannah puts together that it was David who killed the family 10 years ago because they were trying to get him admitted into a psychiatric hospital. So despite there being medical records that the family had another child, no one at any point decided to look for him?
I could see that if the family disappeared but the family was murdered, it was big news. We see a news report about it earlier.
Hannah tells John and Melanie what she found and the two decide to call the psychiatric hospital to find out if it’s true. While they’re upstairs calling, Hannah goes to the kitchen to get a glass of water and in the reflection of the glass cupboard door, sees David climbing out of another cupboard.
Hannah runs upstairs yelling for John and as he and Melanie exit the room to investigate, David jumps out of the attic and attacks John. Melanie and Hannah run downstairs and trip the security alarm as John is dragged into the attic by David with a wire.
John is able to free himself and finds a bat but is once again attacked by David who overpowers him and knocks him out. Police arrive and enter the attic finding John still alive. They call out to David to exit with his hands up and because he instead runs out from behind a box, he’s immediately shot multiple times.
I’m skeptical if the person shot was David as we don’t see their face before they’re shot and we cut immediately to them being taken in an ambulance with their face covered. The movie is doing an awful lot to prevent us from seeing his face.
In the attic, police find David’s hidden room in the attic and I have so many questions. The last family disappeared around 8 months ago so what did David eat for 8 months? He’s agoraphobic and refuses to leave the house. Where did he get all those car air fresheners?
After the police leave, the family decides to pack up and spend the night at a motel. While they pack, we see quick shots of the hospital where the person the police shot has a much cleaner appearance than David.
In her room, Hannah calls Tommy and hears his phone coming from inside her closet. Opening her closet she finds his phone on the floor and when she looks up David drags her into the ceiling.
Meanwhile, at the hospital, we see the person the police shot was actually Tommy. Melanie searches for Hannah and alerts John that she’s missing. Hannah wakes up tied to the walls and starts to scream, alerting John and Melanie to where she is.
David grabs… I think a screwdriver, I don’t know it’s pretty dark. With weapon in hand, he climbs into another part of the walls after telling Hannah to be quiet. Hannah is able to free herself and John yells for her to climb up to the attic. David sees Hannah climbing and starts to chase after her.
For some reason, Melanie doesn’t go to the attic and instead continues to call out to Hannah from the master bedroom. For another unknown reason, David is no longer chasing after Hannah and instead appears in the master bedroom. Hannah watches from a hole in the ceiling as David kills Melanie.
John helps Hannah climb into the attic and the two attempt to escape but the attic door closes on its own. John breaks the door open and Hannah falls down the stairs hurting her leg in the process. Before John can get down the steps, David wraps a cable around his neck and kills him.
Hannah hobbles down the stairs but David catches up to her in the living room, knocks her down, and stabs her in the side. Hannah grabs a piece of a broken picture frame and stabs David in his side causing him to release her. Crawling to the door, Hannah grabs the handle but David drags her back to him and starts to strangle her.
This scene is playing out in a kind of slow motion and we hear Hannah’s scream echo as we cut to the outside of the house where everything is quiet. This implies Hannah is killed by David and there was no one around to help or hear them… Also, it tells us that those walls are soundproof.
Title screen! Wait, what?
The film ends with text popping up stating “With the economic downturn of 2008, there has been a staggering increase of people discovering strangers living undetected inside their homes.” This is objectively not true and there are no statistics to prove that statement… I looked.
Also, does this mean the movie was supposed to be taking place in 2008? There’s nothing in the movie that points to that and there’s evidence of the opposite. The phone that Hannah has is definitely a modern smartphone and not a 2008 version. She also finds David’s date of birth which shows he was born in 1991 making him around 25 if the movie takes place in 2016. If the movie took place in 2008 that would make him around 17 and only 7 years old when he killed his family.
All this is to say, that the 2008 statement at the end of the movie is a weird freaking statement to tack on to the end of the movie.
Within or Crawlspace is okay. The main problem is it feels like someone heard about the urban legend of people living in the walls of a house, saw one news story where it really happened, and wrote a movie out of it. That’s literally what the whole movie is about.
There’s no real internal struggle within the main family, no past trauma the characters are dealing with, and no character arcs. Luckily the writer does it in a way where the movie doesn’t feel too hollow.
The acting is good for most of the movie, there are a few scenes that feel awkward though. Dialogue is okay, nothing special or nothing that sticks with you. The movie is too dark at times and it ruins some of the horror it tries to create. Pretty sure multiple scenes had David hiding in the background but because the movie is unnecessarily dark, you’ll never notice it. Also when Melanie is killed, I could barely tell she was getting stabbed… why do this?
The story makes sense and unlike some other movies where you don’t know if the threat is human or supernatural, it doesn’t try too hard to convince you that ghosts are to blame for the first half of the movie. There are still some weird scenes like why would David play with the Newton’s Cradle if he’s trying to stay hidden and why is he able to make the attic door close while nowhere near it?
There are also one or two scenes that add nothing to the movie, for example at one point Hannah visits the neighbor Rosemary and learns nothing new. It was such an inconsequential scene I didn’t even mention it in the plot details, it’s just 5 minutes in the movie that should’ve been cut.
Overall I would recommend Within to any horror fans who just moved into a new house because that would be funny.
Stuff to Ignore
Metacritic – No Page