They Crawl Beneath opens with Danny (Joseph Almani, Law of Attraction, Bloodline: Lovesick 2) being woken from a nightmare by an earthquake. He soon experiences another kind of nightmare as Gwen (Karlee Eldridge, Moon Manor, House of Bodies) when he calls to make sure she’s OK.
The next morning she dumps him, not because he doesn’t know the difference between anthropology which is what she’s studying and entomology, the study of insects but because he’s a cop and she’s worried he’ll get himself killed as his father did. That and the fact he’s so close with his Uncle Bill (Michael Paré, Nix, Bridge of the Doomed) an alcoholic who ruined last Christmas by insulting Gwen, making a pass at Danny’s mother, and puking all over the kitchen. Something Bill and Danny seem to find amusing. She does however take the worm that bit Bill in to the university with her.
With nothing better to do now he decides to help Bill work on the old Mustang he’s restoring. Yes, on a day when more tremors are predicted they’re going to crawl under a car held up by a couple of jacks. Nobody said you had to be smart to be a cop.
Writer Tricia Aurand and director Dale Fabrigar previously worked together on Reed’s Point and before that Fabrigar made another creature feature, the enjoyable D-Railed. Here they get things off to a very unpromising start with an unlikable and pretty much braindead lead character. But that’s not the only problem They Crawl Beneath suffers from.
The editing in the first act of They Crawl Beneath is very confusing and time at the university and at Bill’s place seem to be running at very different speeds. Dr. Wu (Gar-Ye Lee, Am I a Serial Killer?, Killer Under the Bed) takes all day analyzing the specimen, but so little time has passed at the garage that Bill is only starting to feel the effects of the “fatal in two or three hours” venom the creatures possess.
Once the inevitable happens and Danny gets pinned under the car he tries to call for help, but his phone only has three percent of its charge left. After failing to reach anyone what does he do with the last of its charge? Save it to try again later? No, he kills the battery listening to a voicemail. He’s so stupid he deserves to die before he can contaminate the gene pool.
Ninety percent of They Crawl Beneath takes place in Bill’s garage and much of that doesn’t involve the worms. If you can get through that, feel free to use fast-forward as there isn’t much to miss, the last half of the film does deliver some claustrophobic thrills. Once he gets free from the car Danny finds that he’s still trapped in the garage due to a faulty door. And, thanks to the creature’s venom, starting to hallucinate.
They Crawl Beneath’s worms look a bit like smaller versions of the tentacles from Deep Rising. But where they were CGI these are mostly realized using practical effects and look quite good despite the film’s obviously tight budget. Dan Rebert (Itsy Bitsy, Necronomicon: Book of Dead) deserves a lot of credit for what he manages to accomplish here. Unfortunately, it’s forty long, mostly dull minutes into the film before they come to pay Danny a visit.
When it is focused on the worms, They Crawl Beneath is a fairly good creature feature with nasty-looking monsters and a bit of gore. Unfortunately, the script spends way too much time on soap opera level drama and relies on coincidences and people making incredibly stupid choices way more than it should. A one-location and basically one-person show like this needs a strong script to work especially in a genre that includes films like Tremors, Grabbers and The Burrowers, unfortunately, this is anything but.