If You Are Willing To Leave Realism At The Door "Crawl" Offers A Thrill Ride
“Crawl” is a 2019 creature feature directed by French filmmaker Alexandre Aja (“The Hills Have Eyes,” “High Tension,” “Piranha 3D,”). He knows how to build tension, and he knows how to do so quickly.
Florida used to seem like a lovely place to live, but you definitely won’t catch me near the coast anytime soon. Read on for my review of “Crawl.”
Kaya Scodelario (“Skins,” “The Maze Runner”) stars Haley Keller, a college swimmer at the University of Florida. Her father, Dave Keller, played by Barry Pepper (“True Grit”), was her coach growing up. In recent years they haven’t been close or really even talking due to her parent’s divorce. With a Category 5 hurricane heading their way and her sister’s worry about their father being unreachable, Haley drives to check on him, ignoring all evacuation warnings.
Not finding anyone but her dad’s cute dog, she decides to look for him at the old family home, driving further into the storm. For some reason, Dave decided this would be the perfect time to do some home repair, consequently getting himself trapped in the crawlspace under the house. Finding him unconscious and bleeding, she tries to rescue him. She almost makes it out with her dad in hand but fails when a giant alligator attacks.
While floodwaters continue to rise, her dad regains consciousness. Having no choice but to risk it all and find a way out before the basement is completely flooded and the ‘gators can swim over the bars that separate the two from the hungry beasts.
“Crawl” runs at an incredible pace, spending just enough time, in the beginning, to set up the story but not taking too long to get into the action. Each wild event leads right into another, hardly giving the viewer a minute to relax after something intense plays out on screen.
It’s worth noting the film might be a bit triggering for anyone who has been affected by hurricanes in the past.
While there is a risk of getting attacked by an alligator if you take a swim in this state, I can imagine some Floridians had issues with the film in its plausibility. Haley is a talented swimmer, but there is no way she is faster than a ‘gator. Some things she faces would genuinely be impossible to get out of in real life. An example of this is her ability to break free from an alligator roll in one piece, a spinning maneuver meant to dismember prey. The question is do you have the main character die right away or have her be brave and fight back, so you get to watch the frighteningly entertaining scenes play out.
The most realistic aspect of this film seems to be the strong bond between dad and daughter. Even with a few lengthy unnecessary heart-to-hearts, it works. The actors did what they could with a screenplay that is a bit weak and cheesy in parts, creating characters that are easy to root for. Without these moments, the film could be better, but they aren’t entirely intolerable.
The prolonged interactions between the people in this film, for the most part, character development is limited to what is needed. There are a handful of other people introduced briefly that just serve the purpose of being violently munched on, but not so many that it is annoying.
Creature features can only do so much. They tend to be predictable, and it’s hard to escape that. There are still a few events that you most likely won’t see coming with this particular movie.
Story aside, cinematically, this is a nice-looking piece. Aja carried his ability to create suspense and drama into this film. He used close-ups, unique angles, nice sound work, and editing consciously. The ‘gators themselves did not disappoint, a bit shocking given the relatively low budget this film was allotted.
If you go into it ready to have a good time and without the expectation of anything earth-shattering, you are likely to enjoy it. Fans of creature features and even slashers will get a kick out of this one. The film is not a masterpiece, but it is by no means bad! There is plenty of action, blood, wounds, and jump scare to keep you entertained. Still, the ability to extend your disbelief will be essential.
“Crawl” (2019) Official Trailer