Crawl – 4 out of 5
There are few films that can pull off the natural disaster and/or natural predator threat. Usually they get too silly or unbelievable. When I first saw the trailer for Crawl, my initial reaction was the film was going to be dumb—possibly fun in said dumbness but I didn’t believe it would be a decent movie. The film was directed by Alexandre Aje and he made the very fun Piranha 3D so I admitted that it was possible it could be silly fun but when the reviews started to roll in and it was getting high watermarks I found myself getting quite interested. Well, I recently checked it out since it is the month of Halloween and, I gotta say, I was pleasantly surprised with how great this film is.
|Ha ha. I get it!|
When a Category 5 hurricane is on its way to hit Florida, Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) is contacted by her sister and told that she can’t get ahold of their father; Dave (Barry Pepper). When she couldn’t find him at his condo, she travels to their old family home and finds him unconscious in the crawl space under the house. As she tries to help him out, they are attacked by ravenous alligators. As they hide from them, Dave awakens and informs Haley that the alligators got in from a storm drain and as the storm grows progressively worse, more gators invade the area. Now the two are in a fight to survive because if the alligators don’t get them, the hurricane will.
|"Dad, let's focus on getting out of here and stop with your theories that the |
alligators created the hurricane to trap us and eat us."
|If Steve Irwin was still alive these gators would be |
putty in his hands. He'd say how beautiful they were
and he navigate the surroundings without getting attacked...
I miss Steve.
Crawl’s simplicity is quite possibly what makes the film work and work incredibly well. It doesn’t try to overcomplicate itself or try to overinflate its sense of self-worth by pretending its deeper than it is. The film comes in and says, “We’re going to watch a woman and her father try not to get eaten by alligators and do their best to not let a hurricane kill them.” Due to this simplicity, the film comes in at a tight hour and twenty-seven minutes and not a single second of it feels wasted. Even as the characters are being developed and we’re seeing how tenuous the relationship between the father and daughter is, you never feel like the product is slowing down. The film has an absolute perfect pace and develops everything from the conflict to the characters to the stakes fantastically.
|The reason they are attacking is because she didn't say she'd see them later.|
|The whole movie I kept saying, "So help me if this film|
kills that dog."
One thing this feature does extremely well is the jump scare. I’m not usually the biggest fan of the jump scare because too many horror films telegraph them too obviously and it robs the visceral and immediate reaction when you can see the killer leaping out a mile away. While Crawl has the occasional obvious scare, the majority of the time the jump scares come out of nowhere or play off the obvious ones coming and then decide to bring the scare a beat earlier or later than expected. The next scary element about this film is just the idea of a predatory animal hunting a person. While alligators are not naturally this aggressive like they are shown in the film, the production does a tremendous job at building a reality where the viewer can suspend disbelief and find the horror of a predator like this hunting and attacking you and bringing you down to a watery grave. This element never comes off humorous or gratuitous like it so often does in shark films (but, dammit, do I love the silliness of shark films) but rather felt like an authentic threat wrapped up in the horror of a hurricane.
|"No, not like this! My psychic told me I would die in my sleep. I didn't expect|
to learn psychics were bullshit in this way!!!"
Finally, the performance from Kaya Scodelario is stellar. Sure, Barry Pepper is great as the dad but his character was a catalyst for the conflict and wasn’t the focus of the story. Haley is the hero and the badass of the film. She is the one who is swimming with the gators and fighting them when her back is against the wall. Scodelario is giving her all to the role and isn’t phoning it in at all. She’s so good with the character that you, as a viewer, are right there with her cheering her on when she is trying to outswim a chasing gator or are hoping she’s gonna make it when one of the monsters is trying to sink its teeth into her.
|Just Leroy Jenkins your way through the gators...and also the hurricane.|
Crawl is a film that could have easily gone completely wrong. It could have been silly and too over-the-top to be scary or entertaining. The product ended up being a very suspenseful feature that had some great scares and a terrific cast. It’s not a terrifying horror film but rather a fun thriller that was a blast to sit through as it was equal parts exciting as you cheer on the characters to survive and scary as the jump scares were delivered perfectly.