If you’re like me and have lived in Texas for any length of time – or even a state or an area that has lots of country music on the radio – you’ve probably heard David Allan Coe’s “You Never Even Called Me By My Name.” Good chance you heard it before and didn’t even know it. It’s that song with the monologue in the middle about what makes the perfect country and western song (in no particular order: trains, mama, rain, pick-up trucks and getting drunk). Well, for me I could do a little monologue about what makes the perfect horror movie. Sure, you could have blood and gore and boobs and dread and whatnot, but there’s still one thing missing from that formula, one thing that keeps it from being perfect.
If you ask me, you can never really have too many tentacles in a movie. And they have to be tentacle somewhere they don’t belong: the less likely the place, the better. So I think I can say this with few reservations, “Closet Space” is one of my new favorite movies.
It follows a group of college students, led by the somewhat bookish Jack (James LaMarr) to a research site located curiously in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere Texas. What makes this site so interesting? Well, for one, it’s a pan-dimensional cavern that leads off into the deep, dark unknown. Two, it’s located in a closet. Faster than you can say, “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn,” things start to go bad and not in an, “I wonder if this will hurt my GPA,” kind of way either. More like, they go bad in a “Does this pan-dimensional entity possessing my body and feasting on my entrails make my butt look fat,” kind of way. Decidedly, it’s not pleasant.
Released in 2007, “Closet Space,” the third film from Houston director Mel House is unabashedly Lovecraftian and presents one of his foundational themes: science probing just a little too far for its own good. With Jason Stewart’s script, House Sparta-kicks us down the reality hole into a world of dangerous shadows and tentacled fiends. I can’t say how refreshing it was, as a genre fan, to watch a movie that didn’t rely on the typical low-budget horror movie formula of sex and blood. Instead, “Closet Space” digs into the horror bag and grabs a handful of foundational fears – pressure points of the human psyche – and digs its knuckles in: the dark, the unknown, over-reaching science and even bodily invasion.
No psycho slashers.
No bimbo coeds.
No smirking nerds going meta and winking at the camera.
Just straight up fear.
Granted, it’s not a perfect film. You’re rarely going to find a low budget affair that is. For all its good points, “Closet Space” does suffer from a few of the maladies that afflict most all micro budget affairs: some bad acting, some cheesy dialogue and some bad effects. Not so much that it takes away from the movie as a whole. However… there were some disappointing bits, most notably the final confrontation with the “entities.” It was flat out exasperating given the feel of the rest of the movie. I’m not going to go into more detail about it. Watch it for yourself and make your own opinion. Personally, I don’t think it torpedoes an otherwise good movie.
“Closet Space”, while making a few stumbles along the way, takes us on an exploration from a small Texas farmhouse to some dark, nasty corner of the universe. It’s not a trip for everyone, but for those inclined, it’s not a bad trip to make.