There are a lot of things to worry about during a hurricane. Deadly winds. Rising waters. Looters. And now we can add a new item to that list: hungry alligators. And judging from the new movie Crawl, they may well be the worst part about this natural disaster!
Crawl tells the story of Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a Floridian swimming champion with a slightly strained relationship with her father Dave (Barry Pepper). When a hurricane suddenly hits, Dave is nowhere to be found, and Haley travels to their home, braving the storms in order to find him.
Due to some unfortunate twists of fate, Haley and Dave end up in the flooded crawlspace beneath their home. This is also the lurking ground of a pack of ornery alligators, that have escaped from the nearby creek due to the flood. Daughter and dad soon find themselves having to run, jump, swim and fight, to make sure they don’t end up as alligator food!
If you’re looking for a deep plot or shocking twists or ruminations about the nature of existence and so on, well, this is not the movie for you. Crawl is about two people running (and swimming) like hell from hungry alligators, and by gosh does it deliver in that aspect. Yes, there’s a story about courage and family and blah blah blah buried under all the alligator-escaping action, but let’s face it, no one is going to remember anything about that after the movie.
Crawl is the latest flick from Alexandre Aja, who directed The Hills Have Eyes (2003) and Mirrors (2008). He also did Piranha 3D (2010): people being attacked by vicious water animals must be his forte. Sam Raimi, of the original Spider-Man trilogy and Evil Dead series is producer, so you know this film isn’t going to be your typical B-movie horror.
Most of the horror in Crawl comes in jump scares: to the director’s credit, though, they are exceptionally well-made jump scares. There are some awesome set-pieces – one where Haley has a run-in with an alligator in the bathroom, and another claustrophobia-inducing scene involving travelling through a pipe.
And the alligators in this movie are truly portrayed as sinister – savage hunting machines with massive jaws and hideous strength, striking at their prey whenever they least expect it. There’s a Malay saying, don’t think there are no crocodiles in still water, and a lot of people are definitely going to think twice about visiting rivers after watching this movie.
The gore content in this movie is pretty high too. Blood is spilled by the gallons, limbs are bitten off, and deaths are gruesome. These alligators are definitely insti-gators of some very unpleasant scenes.
But enough about our scaly friends. What about the human characters? Oh yeah. They do fine. Scodelario does well, especially since it would be easy to portray Haley as the standard shrieking damsel in distress. Fortunately, she infuses her character with a grit that makes it easy for audiences to cheer for her. As for Pepper, he looks a little young to be Scodelario’s father, but does generally OK. There’s also a dog in the movie. Does it get eaten? Ooh, suspense!
The characters suffer from action movie hero syndrome. They receive major injuries that would probably kill a person in real life, yet can shrug them off and perform death-defying physical stunts barely a few minutes later. It strains suspension of disbelief a little… but, then again, who watches these films for realism?
All in all, Crawl is a fun film. Serious film critics may think it all a croc-of-nonsense, but unless you’re really a gator-hater, there’s a lot to be enjoyed in this mindless thriller. Oh, and stay for the movie’s end credit, which feature the best song choice ever!
Director: Alexandre Aja
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Ross Anderson