Klaus Kinski stars as Dr. Guenther, a former Nazi scientist now hiding out in America as an landlord. He only allows pretty young women to live in his building. He also likes to crawl around in the air ducts to watch the women in their apartments, which he has fitted with all sorts of weird devices and boobytraps.
Based on the synopsis, I was expecting Crawlspace to be a sleazy, low budget horror flick along the lines of Maniac, one that makes you feel dirty just for watching it. It's a little like that, I suppose, but mainly it turns out to be a clever and well constructed suspense film that elevates its sleaziness with its wit and faux-classy style. Think bargain basement De Palma or Argento.
What I didn't realize before I watched it was that its director, David Schmoeller, also made Tourist Trap, an all time favorite of mine. Crawlspace is not that good, but has some of the same virtues. It's a stylish thriller with a strong cast, crafted well enough that it almost doesn't seem like an exploitation film (though, it is). The kind of film where you can enjoy how absurd it becomes, instead of scoffing at it. At a lean, mean 80 minutes, it efficiently gets the job done and without overstaying its welcome. So far, it's the real "find" of this year's YVIAHMMAOIHTNQ.
Grade: B +