‘Crawlspace’ Ending Explained & Movie Summary: Why Did Sterling Shoot Jordan?

Some concepts work very well in the indie filmmaking scene. Getting caught in a suffocating space and hiding from evil forces is one of those ideas that immediately feels right for small-budget filmmaking. The 2022 film by L. Gustavo Cooper, Crawlspace, has the entirety of it’s plot revolve around the protagonist hiding from wicked, unknown men who are after the money hidden in the crawlspace. It’s entertaining for a while, but soon the insipid decisions taken by everybody involved turn this taut thriller into a sloppy one, where the payoff is nowhere near as exciting as it could have been. The characters are paper thin, and hence most of the actors try to act like stock characters taken from similar movies from the past. But taking the movie for what it is, Crawlspace just might do it for you if you are looking for a little claustrophobic fun.

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Spoilers Ahead


Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

Robert Mitchell had no idea that leaving his wife and kid to go on to take care of his plumbing job would perhaps cost him his life. The story takes place in a small town in Oregon, where the houses with the crawl spaces were still in vogue, perhaps. Robert went to fix the pipes of the town’s bigshot and lumber mill owner, Tim Witner, and soon found himself in a spot of trouble when two men came into the house having kidnapped Witner and proceeded to murder him. Witner was involved in some shady business that nobody, not even the town’s Sheriff Higgon, knew of. The town was primarily known for its lumberjack industry, and the poaching of trees was a recent crime the FBI was studying, which is why they sent Agent Helen Masur to look into it. The investigation was ongoing, and it had to progress quickly as Robert’s life depended on it.

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How Did Robert Fight Back?

The two criminals, Sterling and Dooley, had already killed a man named Vladimir Popov and dumped his body, that was discovered by Helen, while she was inspecting the poaching in the forest. They were after a bag of cash that Tim had stashed in the crawlspace. Initially, Robert was busy with his work, but soon he noticed some commotion, and just minutes later, before he could comprehend what was happening, a gunshot rang out, and Robert saw Tim’s body in the crawlspace. He was dead, and he realized that the men were hardened criminals who wouldn’t spare his life. He had to cross his fingers and hope that they didn’t know that Robert was hiding downstairs. If only he could have gotten away easily, everything would have been fine. Robert, in a panic, started moving in the crawlspace, discovered the money, and inferred that perhaps the two men were after the bag. Sterling had an inkling where Tim could have hidden the bag, and when he and his partner, the giant of a man, Dooley, went towards the entry point of the crawlspace, they saw Robert there, trying to get away. Robert got shot at, and he had no option but to retreat into the crawlspace and hide. Now Sterling knew that there was a witness who was also an obstacle between him and the money. But Bob wasn’t a dud in putting up a fight. He had his tool bag with him, in which he had a blowtorch, a drilling machine, and many other tools, which he used to perfection and kept Sterling away. He used his knife to slash at Dooley’s hand. Then he drilled a nail through the wooden floor and caught Sterling’s foot. He even made a nail-claw, something inspired by the Wolverine, it seems, to attack the men if they entered the claustrophobic crawlspace.


Was Bob A Covert Soldier?

After getting shot by a crossbow, then managing to stop the bleeding by cauterizing his wound using a blowtorch and an iron bolt, Robert achieved feats no normal guy could ever have. He had such a sense of what Sterling and Dooley’s next step would be that he predicted their actions and planned accordingly, as if he had been trained to read such situations. Nothing Robert did in the crawlspace made him look just like a simple family man with no hidden past. Even Sterling was flabbergasted when Robert attacked Dooley, and then at the time when Robert started making deals with him, as to how they could walk away from the situation unharmed. This may be one of the cases where a kind man went against hardcore criminals and won by chance, but chances are that Robert was an ex-military man whose past was hidden from his wife Olivia as well. The sheer presence of mind Robert had implies training, and he could have gotten such training only if he was part of the military or another organization, maybe one that was criminal in nature. Robert’s unusual habit of lending out cash, as apparent when he had a fight about it with Olivia, could be a front to keep a persona of being a helper and a genuinely kind person, even at the expense of providing for his own family. That way, nobody would ever suspect him. Whatever the truth, Robert was the kind of man who seemed ready in the face of such jeopardy, which was highly unusual.

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Why Did Sterling Shoot Jordan?

Helen was doing her job, and soon she started to get to the bottom of things. She was being guided by deputy sheriff Jordan Pacer, who led her to Tim Witner’s lumber mill. The poaching of trees meant that Tim could be a part of the operation, benefiting from the illegal felling of trees. Olivia was the accountant at Tim’s Mill, but as she had been on maternity leave for the past few weeks, she couldn’t help Helen out. After they left, she did find some bank transfers that looked like Tim was stealing from the mill. But she called Jordan, while Helen was busy with the Sheriff interrogating Gerald Simmons, another suspect in the poaching case.

The truth was that Sterling was working under Pacer’s orders. Pacer knew about Tim’s illegal operation but didn’t do anything as she was a crooked cop. She knew about the stash and came up with a plan to get it, but she didn’t account for Robert, the plumber, to put a halt to the proceedings. Sterling had messaged her about Robert’s persistent fight back from the crawlspace, which is why Pacer showed up with her at Tim’s residence. Her plan was to use Olivia as leverage and get Robert to come out, but before all that, she got furious over Sterling’s actions and how he couldn’t overcome a simple plumber. Sterling was fuming, as his day had been a nightmare. He had killed two people that day, but Robert had outsmarted him. He wasn’t really in the mood of being called an incompetent killer, certainly not by Pacer, who acted like she owned him. When the long rant of insults didn’t stop, Sterling decided it was better to shoot her, as that meant a larger share for him. Pacer survived in the end, as the bullet had hit just her shoulder. Sterling managed to get Robert out of the crawlspace when he threatened to kill Olivia, but Robert outsmarted him once more and shot him in the neck with one of his tools he had invented in the crawlspace. Sure, the fact that Sheriff Higgon had arrived on the scene after Olivia’s distress call and shot Sterling in the leg helped, but it was Robert who truly incapacitated him.

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Robert got to return to his family and see his newborn again. During Crawlspace‘s ending, Robert received a hefty sum of money in a parcel left in his mail by Sheriff Higgon himself. This could mean that he wanted to help Robert get on his feet again and forget about all the money he had lent away. But this could mean that this money was some kind of debt being repaid. Robert had already shown that he wasn’t just a normal fellow, and Higgon might have known about his past. Perhaps there was a time when he couldn’t help him financially, but now he had the money to do that. Higgon might have known about Robert’s past and kept it secret all along. But lastly, Robert just simply might be an extremely lucky guy who neutralized all the threats by sheer dumb luck and all his tricks worked. And finally, his financial woes went away as well, as Higgon helped a good family man in need of help.


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Ayush Awasthi
Ayush Awasthi
Ayush is a perpetual dreamer, constantly dreaming of perfect cinematic shots and hoping he can create one of his own someday.

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