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The People Under The Stairs Review

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A young boy, Fool, is persuaded into burgling the house of his family's cruel landlord house and discovers, child abuse, incest and much more…

★★★★

Wes Craven achieves more meaningful political commentary with this one brilliantly deceptive "horror" movie than Oliver Stone does in his last four projects. McGill and Robie star as camouflaged Ronald and Nancy Reagan who live inside a spectacularly complex mansion of social horror, all funded by money swindled from the lower classes around them. There they physically abuse their "daughter" to keep her in line, imprison and mutilate young white males who refuse to behave well, plus butcher blacks and all other minorities for cannibal cuisine.

Into this stunning symbolism comes teenage would-be burglar Adams, who courageously fights back against both "Daddy" and "Mommy" - pet names that the Reagans still use for each other to this day - in ways wonderously atypical for a teenager in any fright film.

Going against the rancid tradition of modern terror formulae, Craven immediately establishes empathy with the "abnormal" folk, one intentional reason why his title is not Mommy And Daddy Rule. By the time he finally introduces those denziens in the basement, he builds not the expected fear but genuine emotional connection. Instead of snuff-style anticipation for the next victims to die, he invests all his support in the kids' fight to escape the house.

His shockingly sensitive portrayal of America's army of Have-Nots comes wrapped in enough whipcrack pacing and shrews set design to make even the staunchest Thatcherite swallow the medicine.

Anti-greed, anti-racist, and pro-feminist at the same time, this movie-movie gem scores on levels few horror films ever have. At a time when the Reagan's spiritual son wants four more years, Craven delivers one complicated sociopolitical exposé that would make Jonathan Swift and George Orwell spit up and cheer.

This movie-movie gem scores on levels few horror films ever have. Not just a disturbing ride but also a hard-hitting political statement.