Right here be gators. The trailer for Crawl makes that blatantly apparent, promising a creature characteristic a few woman trapped inside a home with a murderous alligator. Fortunately, the pulp thriller delivers on all of the delightfully grandiose alligator motion promised, whereas conveying a suspenseful survival story stuffed with tense moments and sharp surprises.
[Ed. word: This text comprises gentle spoilers for Crawl.]
There isn’t only one gator; there’s a military of gators. There are such a lot of gators. They’re huge chonky boys, greater than any gator I’ve truly seen within the wild (and I would know, having grown up in South Florida). Positive, director Alexandre Aja was impressed by the largest, baddest gators on the market, however as he says, the alligators within the movie, whereas rooted in actuality, have been “hyper-real.” These alligators are exaggerated caricatures of alligators moderately than alligators themselves — which makes them superior.
In Crawl, Haley (Kaya Scodelario) heeds information of a Class 5 hurricane and returns to her hometown of Coral Lake, Florida, when she will be able to’t instantly contact her father (Barry Pepper). After discovering his condo lacking, she journeys via the storm to her previous household dwelling and descends into the crawl area — discovering bloody pipes and her trapped and wounded father, cowering from an enormous alligator blocking the exit. So long as Haley and her dad keep behind the pipes, they’re secure, however the rising water stage and worsening climate means they will’t keep hiding for lengthy.
The film hits excessive factors when indulging within the outlandish: Haley sticks her arm down an alligator’s mouth and fires off a shotgun, as an example, proper after discovering a nest of newly hatched gator infants in her household dwelling’s crawl area; dramatic purple lighting highlights Sugar the Very Good Canine as she anxiously doggy-paddles within the infested waters. A part of the explanation the outlandishness finally ends up occurring is as a result of each character fully allows it.
Everybody — human or animal — on this film makes extremely silly choices, and that’s the fantastic thing about Crawl. All the pieces that would go flawed goes flawed, thanks in no half to everybody appearing like a complete moron. Haley finds her dad within the crawl area of the previous household dwelling, which he simply determined to go to as a result of what if one thing occurred to it throughout the Class 5 hurricane? A gaggle of youngsters raids a comfort retailer in the midst of the storm. When Haley and her father lastly do get out of the crawl area, they determine to cross the alligator-infested waters as a substitute of discovering a steady excessive place of their home — very courageous! The characters are all extremely, chaotically, confidently silly, however it’s all very true to Florida, the state that recurrently makes nationwide headlines on account of really inane criminals confidently committing equally ridiculous crimes.
However past dumbass Florida folks doing Florida issues, there’s a tightly wound, suspenseful survival story right here. At its core, Crawl is a catastrophe film, and among the most tense moments come not from the swarming gators, however from the rising waters, failed communications, and hasty wound remedies. That’s to not say that the hyperbolic gators don’t have suspenseful moments. Whereas a number of the enchantment of the gators comes from their bloody massacring, the truth that you’ll be able to’t see them due to the murky water makes for some thrilling leap scares. I say this as somebody who usually hates leap scares, however the ones in Crawl have been teased alongside simply so, by no means felt gratuitous, and at all times landed.
The movie’s weaknesses come primarily from the overly sentimental dialogue between Haley and her father. Traces like “we’re each other’s homes” wouldn’t be misplaced in a Hallmark Christmas film, however appear a bit of hammy in a disaster-horror film. Moments in Crawl attempt to discover their historical past, like how Haley thinks her childhood swimming profession jeopardized her mother and father marriage and thus ruined the household, however we’re not right here for the teary backstory. Give us the alligators! Give us the frenzied chase scenes within the confined crawl area!
The pivot of a younger lady making an attempt to save lots of her father — as a substitute of the opposite approach round, as typically seen in catastrophe flicks (hiya, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) — can also be refreshing, however the dreary historical past between the daddy and daughter could possibly be spared. The film’s intro slogs alongside to determine the connection, however fortunately as soon as Haley descends into the crawl area, it’s all gator motion, on a regular basis.
The alligators, the tight crawl area — a controversial matter amongst Floridians who thought it was a basement — and the hurricane all work individually, however collectively they create some claustrophobic, really terrifying moments, taking Crawl from a easy creature characteristic to a tense catastrophe movie that mashes the outlandish and suspenseful into chompingly good enjoyable.
Crawl is out now in theaters.