October 6, 2019

CRAWL: Reliable Reptiles

CRAWL (2019)
Starring Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Ross Anderson, Moryfydd Clark. Directed by Alexandre Aja. (87 min)

Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

Using truth-in-advertising as a barometer, Crawl is the movie of the year.

I’d been pretty jazzed to see Crawl ever since the first trailer, being that it looked like a mash-up of my two favorite genres: disaster and killer animals. As fans of either genre will attest, such movies are either good, terrible or good because they're terrible. Crawl turns out to be a good one, partially because of its straight-forward approach – no Sharknado silliness - but mainly because it delivers exactly what it promises. There's something strangely reassuring about that.

Taking place in Florida during a hurricane, Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) is a collegiate swimmer who reluctantly returns home to look for her estranged father, Dave (Barry Pepper), because he isnt answering his phone. The town is already beginning to flood by the time she arrives. When she gets to the house, Haley learns why her dad didn’t return her calls: He’s stuck in the crawlspace below with serious injuries. She also discovers – the hard way – what injured him in the first place. Lurking under the house with them are a couple o’ big-ass alligators.

"No one tells me 'See ya later.'"
With the water rising, Haley and Dave need to get out, which is easier said than done. Not only are both of them hurt, their phones don’t work, the town is evacuated and hungry gators are everywhere, as a boatload of looters and some local cops fatally discover. This is all before the hurricane reaches full force. Then there’s Dave’s mangy mutt, Sugar, and goddamn if he isn’t just personable enough to have the viewer going Oh, no! Not the Dog!” every ten minutes or so.

None of it is very plausible, but it’s deftly directed by Alexandre Aja, who knows how to build suspense and put-together some great, well-timed jump-scares, most of which do not come when expected. He also knows a movie like this needs characters we care about for any of it to work. Most of the secondary cast is simply gator fodder, but Haley and Dave are sympathetic and likable, the complexities of their volatile relationship explored with a surprising amount of depth.

Crawl won’t make anyone forget Jaws, but it’s reliable fast-paced fun, with visual effects that are more-or-less convincing and a few great critter kills. At the very least, the film delivers exactly as-advertised. In that respect, I can’t imagine anyone walking away disappointed.

FEATURETTES - “Beneath Crawl” (a 30-minute making-of doc, featuring interviews and a lot of behind-the-scenes footage); “Category 5 Gators: The VFX of Crawl
ALLIGATOR ATTACKS” - A montage of every attack & kill in the film.
ALTERNATE OPENING – Never actually filmed, presented as a motion comic. They were wise not to go with this opening.

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