People Under the Stairs is one of Wes Craven's better films, if you compare 'Scream' and also with 'Nightmare on Elm Street'. It is a return to the roots and the films he once did in the 70s. The thing that propels the film's portrayal of the sick inscestuösa siblings and their vision of the "perfect" family. They are so crazy that you almost start to think about them, even though they are evil incarnate. There is so much crazy antics that take place in the house, while the whole thing is set to a morbid background on the verge of osmaklighet. It reminds me of Tob Hoopers 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre', although it is a much lighter version that is presented. However, there is some gore that is shockingly, for it comes so unexpectedly. The children who live in the basement (the movie called 'People under the Stairs' in original) looks almost like zombies, probably the result of almost never having seen any sunlight. They are quite formidable in themselves.
The theme is inscest, insanity and cannibalism. The film has a little Euro-horror feel to it, paired with American technical fulländing. The result is better than most euro-horror films. The acting is, however, sometimes over to the game. This is the game works well on the sick couple, but unfortunately it works a little worse on some other characters.
An interesting level that Craven has put into the film is a certain social awareness. The sick pair is also the greedy and disgusting rich that sucks out the poor, mostly black, in various real estate transactions. They will do anything to evict their tenants so that they can build office building instead. The hero of the film, a young boy ends up in the house where he has been tricked into robbing couple on their taxes. What drives him is to pay his mother's hospital bill and lägenheteshyran. Craven succeeds then bake in this critique of the American social system along with the entertaining dark humor and morbid horror effects. It may also be the film's weakness, it sprawls a bit in different directions. It will unfortunately never quite as scary, even if it is claustrophobic when you see the little guy flee for his life in narrow passage in the walls away from the sick brother. The social message do you not real seriously. It is the most entertaining and fun. Overall impression is good enough to raise the film above mediocrity.
This edition features an anamorphic picture that is not so good. The colors and sharpness are good, at least as long as the image does not move too much. When it does, especially in the shadows, the image becomes grainy at the edges and pulled trailer artifacts. The sound is only in stereo but works pretty ok Dolby Pro Logic II. There are no extras.