PARAMOUNT PICTURES (2019)
Director: Alexandre Aja
Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper
Megashark vs. Crocosaurus. Lake Placid. Supergator. Alligator 2: The Mutation.
All movies about large scaly predators looking for some human meat (Disclaimer: alligators and crocodiles are the same things to me – despite seeing one in a while and seeing the other later). We can now add Crawl to that hallowed list. From Alexandre Aja, the movie focuses on Kaya Scodelario’s Haley and Barry Pepper’s Dave, who plays her father, as they are trapped in a house during a devastating hurricane that has flooded a small Floridian town…letting loose the gators who are hungry and angry.
Crawl is dripping with low-budget, straight-to-DVD appeal in its premise and appearance, but, unlike those cheesy crapfests mentioned previously, Crawl is actually pretty good. It’s by no means outstanding, however, it achieves what it sets out to be – a claustrophobic, horror-thriller designed to be a white knuckle ride throughout its extremely swift runtime. After an opening ten minutes that establishes the characters and their skills (which become extremely useful later in the movie) the movie ramps into action and never lets up. Mainly set in Dave’s damaged basement, the characters are forced into a deadly cat-and-…alligator fight for survival as the weather gets worse, the number of predators rises and Aja tightens his stranglehold on the characters and the viewer the further on we get.
Scodelario dives into the role with relish and really gets stuck in with her performance and has a respect for the material, trying to squeeze every ounce from it. Pepper is solid as the father and the alligators look pretty terrifying – the FX used on them are surprisingly good for a movie with a budget such as Crawl had – and they provide believably nasty antagonists. Scodelario and Pepper create decent father-daughter chemistry and it’s their struggles and teamwork against adversity that fuels the story (the pair have been estranged for a while now). The story itself is as familiar as they come, but Aja uses tension and atmosphere to overcome the narrative shortcomings and he does it well. That combined with the aforementioned tight runtime (eighty-seven minutes) ensures Crawl never overstays its welcome, even in the moments that seem ludicrous even in a movie like this.
Crawl is a great example of a smaller movie coming out of nowhere that may not have caused a huge splash, but was surprising in the fact it totally subverted expectations by not being utter rubbish. In fact, Crawl is a gritty, snappy yet fun movie that pulsates with atmosphere and has a dedicated performance from Scodelario at its core. Well worth a watch – get your friends round, beer and pizza and have a good evening with it.
July 10th 2019