Wes Craven’s The People Under The Stairs is something of a amalgamation of a horror and a children’s adventure.
With his family about to be evicted by ruthless landlords, young Fool is desperate to save their home. He reluctantly agrees to aid two robbers who plan to rob the landlords’ house, but the three are unaware what lies in wait…
The People Under the Stairs is less traditional horror and more of an adventure. The film has moments of real tension, and there are creepy overtones than run throughout. However, the film does not concentrate solely on trying to scare viewers.
There is a vein of social conscience that runs throughout Wes Craven’s 1991 film. The film pits an impoverished black family against wealthy white landlords who are unconcerned with their tenants’ plight. The People Under the Stairs is much a product of the period that produced it. That is not to say that these social concerns have been completely eradicated, but merely that it seems like a story of the late 1980s/early 1990s. The film is not just about good triumphing over evil, but a sense of justice being delivered.
The People Under the Stairs reveals more about its antagonists as the film progresses. There is enough offered initially to keep viewers engaged. The story behind the house owners is far-fetched, yet not completely implausible. It is this which makes the antagonists most unsettling. There is a cruelty to them which is disturbing. In the final quarter of the film, rationality is eschewed in favour of an all-out rescue mission.
Performances in The People Under the Stairs are good overall. Brandon Quintin Adams is amiable as Fool, while A.J. Langer looks the part as Alice. Wendy Robie brings a decent amount of menace to her role.
Whilst it is dated in parts, The People Under the Stairs is a good horror hybrid that entertains throughout.
The People Under the Stairs is available on Blu-Ray and DVD from 4th November 2013.