For OG “Twin Peaks” fans, seeing Wendy Robie and Everett McGill star alongside each other once more will be a dream come true. Like David Lynch’s trippy and genre-blending television series, Wes Craven’s “The People Under the Stairs” has a lot going on in its cunning runtime. Regardless of being an R-rated movie, the 1991 horror-comedy feels like a Disney Channel Original fever dream. Its main character is a young kid named Fool/Dexter, who goes against the killer odds of gentrification, white advantage, evil landlords, and expulsion. (There’s even a Scrooge McDuck-like vault of gold coins for Fool to find.)
But upon closer appearance, “The People Under the Stairs” carries some troubling side characters and kinks. Robie’s Lady and McGill’s Male are bro and sibling, who in some cases call each other mama and baby or spouse and spouse. In their spare time, they abduct kids to raise. When their kids begin acting out, they mutilate them, trap them in the basement, and feed them human remains to stay alive. Robie and McGill go complete camp with their efficiencies, even if other stars approach their roles with figured out sincerity. Craven holds nothing back when showing just how wicked these white proprietors are, making it simple to root for Fool’s journey. At times, Craven’s portrayal of Black poverty feels one-dimensional, however it’s still rewarding to watch a young Black male save his neighborhood from homelessness.