A young woman, while attempting to save her father during a Category 5 hurricane, finds herself trapped in a flooding house and must fight for her life against alligators.
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark, Ross Anderson, Jose Palma, George Somner, Anson Boon, Ami Metcalf
Directors: Alexandre Aja
Writers: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen
The genre of man vs beast has, over the years, been lost to the B-movies produced by the Sci-Fi Network following their success with Sharknado. Crawl reminds me a lot of the genre films I loved watching growing up in the late 90’s-early-2000’s, movies that did their rounds consistently on TV which included Lake Placid, Anaconda, Deep Blue Sea, Rogue and Snakes on a Plane. They’re thrill rides from start to finish, at times silly — some more than others — but a fun ride. And Crawl is very much that: a fun ride.
Crawl has a very simple premise, which is partly why it works so well. Hayley played by Kaya Scodelario drives to her family home amidst a Category 5 hurricane warning to find her Dad, played by Barry Pepper, who isn’t answering his phone. When she arrives she finds him trapped in the crawl-space under the house, passed out after being attacked by an alligator that has made its way into the crawl-space. Hayley and her father must then work together to escape the gator somehow, all the while racing against the clock of the rising winds and waters outside.
Some backstory is given throughout the film to Hayley and her father’s now somewhat tumultuous relationship. It does enough to make you understand what kind of person Hayley’s father is deep-down while giving Hayley a more dramatic story to go through throughout the events of the film. It's nothing special, but gives both actors more to play with and the audience an understanding of these two characters enough to want them to live. The script by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen is at its best when focused on the action though, and after reading director Alexandre Aja chose to cut a family scene between Hayley and Dave, I can understand why.
Both Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper give fine performances given what little character work there is to do, as an audience you’re on their side, screaming for their survival and they sell the very dire situation. Most of Crawl would have been shot in rather ridiculous conditions as well, especially since the majority of the film takes place inside the crawl-space and has the two of them hauled up in that small area making for, I'm sure, an uncomfortable shoot.
The family drama is a very small part of the film with the majority of Crawl being either running from alligators, fighting them, or closing your eyes because all of it is too tense for you to handle (this is me.)
Director Alexandre Aja does a great job building tension like the vice-grip of the alligator's jaws you’re trying to stay out of. He doesn’t try and hide the monsters either; you’re well aware the alligators are there so early in the film, which leads you into the same mindset as the characters on screen. Everything is building off the basic human fear of being bitten by such a predator.
Some of the realism for how the hurricane builds and plays out in the final act of the film had me questioning the realism for a split moment, but one benefit of having a film that's only 1 hour 27 minutes long is you don’t get much time to think about any nonsensical plot points amongst the thrills.
You know if you’ll like Crawl or not. Does watching a couple of people trying not to get eaten by alligators sound like fun? If you’re down for the thrill ride, Crawl is well worth the price of admission, as it made me want to crawl into my seat and close my eyes.