The People Under the Stairs is the story of a young boy (Fool) from the ghetto and takes place on his 13th birthday. In an attempted burglary (along with two others) of the home of his family's evil landlords, he becomes trapped inside their large suburban house and discovers the secret of the "children" that the insane brother and sister have been "rearing" under the stairs. Written by
Directed by Wes Craven, "The People Under the Stairs" is a fun and energetic, if a bit dated, horror flick that stars Brandon Quintin Adams (of "The Mighty Ducks" fame) as a Fool, a street-smart and spunky 13 year-old kid living in the ghetto. When his mother falls ill and the evil landlord hits them with an eviction notice, he hatches a plan with a family friend (Ving Rhames) to break into the landlord's house and rob him of his riches. Unfortunately, Fool finds himself trapped in the house which turns out to be a fortress and uncovers a disturbing discovery about the inhabitants lurking in the basement.
Full of stunning visuals, slapstick humor and colorful performances by its cast, "The People Under the Stairs" is perhaps the best 80's movie made in the 90's. Yeah, that's right, this movie looks and feels like something that belongs in the eighties, from the outfits the characters wear to the oddball hip-hop song that closes out the movie. It helps, though, that Craven is in top form with delivering some truly nightmarish visuals, aided by one great big set-piece in the house that the film spends ninety-five percent of its run-time within.
Adams is a rarity in that he is a kid in a horror movie that isn't annoying. Quite the opposite, Fool is likable and real enough that you can't help but cheer him along as he gives the landlord some payback by throwing a brick at him -- "Home Alone 2" style -- and by sucker-punching his vicious guard-dog when it gets too close. The film is more fun than it is scary, with plenty of witty one-liners, awkward moments and situational humor. Horror fans will recognize Kelly Jo Minter (of "A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child" fame) in a supporting role and will get a kick out of the funhouse trip that "The People Under the Stairs" ultimately is. Despite looking even more dated than it should, it's a film that still holds up as simply a good time.
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