The Crypt (2009)

On it surface, The Crypt is a fairly nondescript, low-budget horror movie about a group of grave robbers who run afoul of the ghosts of the dead folks they’re robbing. But amidst the wooden acting, choppy editing and threadbare plot, there’s actually something admirable to be found: two women of color in the lead roles. Black actress Abra May plays Gina, the mastermind behind the “job of the century,” while Asian actress Sarah Oh plays PJ, who ends up being the “final girl,” because…um, she’s slightly less annoying than the others?

Of the sextet of robbers, five are women (including another WOC, Asian Adrianna), along with PJ’s boyfriend Perry, who looks like he aged out of NSYNC. Gina is the take-charge, no-nonsense leader who convinces them to venture into some Depression-era underground catacombs to swipe the belongings of the well-to-do corpses. They end up running into the ghosts of the deceased, and well, that’s pretty much the extent of the story. There are a few “hanging chads” of potential subplots that are introduced — Adrianna’s little brother dying during one of their earlier thefts, Perry’s attraction to Gina — but they’re never revisited and thus end up as useless padding. Speaking of padding, who here likes endless scenes of CRAWLING?!?

To the movie’s credit, the ghosts themselves are impressively designed and rendered, with a charred skin and glowing eyes look similar to (and predating) the spirits in the excellent We Are Still Here. Despite the obvious budgetary constraints, director Craig McMahon actually manages to create several visually striking moments with the creatures.

Too bad that’s pretty much all the film has to offer other than the multicultural leads. Their race is never an issue in the story, and although Gina sort of fills the cold, hardened bad-ass role into which black actresses sometimes find themselves pigeonholed, she’s still got a bit of a human side and isn’t painted with the sort of masculine/asexual brush strokes those roles tend to receive.

The level-headed Gina is frankly just as likable as final girl PJ, who’s about as exciting as dry toast, but her big sin, horror movie-wise (which makes her susceptible to death), is being greedy enough to have conceived of the heist in the first place. Dammit, black woman, don’t you know you can’t have any ambition to succeed in life?!?

A scene from the movie The Crypt
“Babe, can you do that thing where you climb on my back and make that croaking noise from The Grudge?”
A scene from the movie The Crypt
Bianca would never forgive Natalie for ruining her Lara Croft cosplay.
A scene from the movie The Crypt
Oh, you better believe there’s crawling in this movie!
A scene from the movie The Crypt
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis sold their souls for one more hit.
A scene from the movie The Crypt
“Wait, how many hands do you have again?”
A scene from the movie The Crypt
“Did that voice say ‘Get out’ or “Pet trout’? Because I’ve been meaning to get an aquarium…”
A scene from the movie The Crypt
“NOT MY STUMP!”
A scene from the movie The Crypt
“…Don’t…let…Tilda Swinton…Scarlett Johansson…or Emma Stone…take my role…”

What do you think?