The People Under the Stairs : Review  

The People Under the Stairs : Review  

Cover Story | Poindexter, or Fool as everyone called him (Brandon Adams), was living a rough life. The projects he grew up in were filled with drug dealers, addicts and stray dogs. Fool was 13 and the youngest of 7 kids. Even at that age he had already lost 3 siblings and of the three left: one was addicted to crack, another in jail for something and the last was turning tricks. His mother was dying of cancer and calling him the man of the house already! That kind of life makes me understand how he adjusted to all the wild shit that happened in this movie so quickly (and there was a lot of wild shit going on).

Ruby, Leroy, and Fool | Courtesy of Google

One of the craziest things in the movie is that Poindexter finds himself in this house in the first place. Initially, I thought Leroy (Ving Rhames) was trying to turn Fool into a corner boy (kids selling drugs isn’t a pleasant thought but it’s familiar) however, when I found out he wanted to recruit him into a breaking and entering ring, I thought he was crazy. Then I had to remember where this child was being raised and it made more sense.

The house they tried to rob belonged to the family’s landlords. A racist White sibling-couple, who steals children in an attempt to create the perfect family. The only issue is while they were looking for the perfect son they would lock the imperfect boys in the basement under the stairs. Every boy they had kidnapped was locked down there and forced to eat the intruders that made it into the house. This family had a lot going on. The “daughter” Alice (A.J. Langer) had also been kidnapped, but she managed to stay in fairly good graces over the years.

Man and Woman | Courtesy of Google

The parents, known as “Man” and “Woman”, were out of their minds. The dad would get dressed up head to toe in leather, like he was prepared for some intense BDSM adventure. He kept an arsenal of weapons hidden around the home and would shoot them off in the house with no issue. Woman seemed like a stressed mother with too much on her plate, which is absolutely insane in itself! She was living in a house full of other people’s kidnapped children, and was upset because they were misbehaving. Alice wasn’t immune to abnormal behavior either (I blame it on Stockholm syndrome). The way she casually mentioned why Roach, one of the discarded boys, had his tongue removed is creepy. She also believed some Black kid she’d never met before that she was also stolen from her real parents, and ended up killing her fake mother. Fool really lived up to his name when it came to her too. He made it out of the house twice and decided to go back for Alice. TWICE.

Fool | Courtesy of Google

Of course, at the end of the movie Fool saves the day and blows up the father in the money room, but there were questions I was left with. The biggest being who this movie was intended for? It’s main stars were children which suggests a younger audience, but there was so much cussing and mutilation that it was rated-R and less accessible to the youth who would’ve appreciated it the most (I don’t think parents weren’t laughing at kids cursing in ’91 as much as they are today). I guess the other big question is what did they do with all the cannibals that had just been set free? They were trapped under the stairs occasionally eating dead people for years. Are we just letting them back into society?

The People Under the Stairs (November 1, 1991)

Director: Wes Craven

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