Crawl (2019)
Crawl (2019)

Genre: Horror and Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 27 min.

Release Date: July 12th, 2019 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Alexandre Aja Actors: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark, Ross Anderson, Jose Palma, Anson Boon, Ami Metcalf

 


 

A

t the University of Florida in Gainesville, Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) trains in competitive swimming for the Gators (tee hee), struggling to maintain her athletic scholarship. She’s not the best on the team, but she’s determined, and she’s been coached by her father, Dave (Barry Pepper), to never let the competition or the coaches see any mental weaknesses. When sister Beth (Morfydd Clark) calls, alerting her to the fact that their father seems to be unreachable, Haley offers to drive to his house to check in on him. But Hurricane Wendy is about to strike, and mandatory evacuation orders along the coast have stopped up the traffic.

“It’s weird; it’s like a ghost town.” Ignoring warnings to stay out of Brightrock, Haley ventures down empty, rainswept roads to locate her father. When she reaches his condo, she retrieves his dog Sugar, but Dave is nowhere to be found. Rather than staying put, she opts to journey even deeper into the storm to their former family home, where Dave’s truck turns up. Surely that’s a good sign …

Were it not for the poster art, the theatrical trailers, and, of course, the title, “Crawl” could have been any type of thriller. The loud, dark, ferocious weather creates quite the environment for chills, while Dave’s disappearance is nicely unsettling. There’s time for the obligatory, unrelated jump scares, too, such as a tree smashing through a window or rats suddenly scurrying across the floor. And even when Haley wanders down into the humid basement, the potential for realistic horrors is evident. But, instead of a mystery, it’s a waiting game for the killer reptiles to show up; the ultimate culprits are already known.

Terribly unnecessary flashbacks and arguments about a failed marriage pad the brief runtime, while other familiar stalling tactics arise – including unhelpful authorities, a lack of resources (or conveniently dropped tools), claustrophobic locales, random victims, and a poor choice of footwear. Thankfully, however, suspenseful music swells at the right spots, there’s a very limited cast (which works to the film’s advantage, particularly when Dave is revealed to be distant, serious, and fiercely – though misguidedly – independent), the subterraneous labyrinth is tight and creepy (underwater shots are impressive, too), the stunts are sharply executed, the rising water levels pose additional threats (plenty of last-minute, contrived scenarios are included for further aggravation), and moments of severe gore supplement the tension. It’s certainly never boring.

It’s also enjoyable that the oversized antagonists are somewhat realistic adversaries (at least they’re not mutants or genetically altered experiments), though their aggressive behavior and sneaky movements (frequently appearing out of nowhere or striking from the darkness) are a bit of a stretch (perhaps climate change has something to do with it). They are, expectedly, horror movie nemeses. But the computer-animated alligators are mostly convincing, and the graphic attacks are thoroughly engaging (Haley and Dave almost comically collect more and more wounds, grunting and groaning their way through impossible feats of survival). Plenty of fun can be had in the battle between man/woman and gator. Plus, modern killer-animal flicks are increasingly rare, so good ones (or merely decent ones) are just that much more diverting.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10