It’s no secret that this summer has been hurting for originality and excitement outside of a few successful blockbusters. Crawl is here to change all that. While it’s by no means perfect, Crawl is among the most fun theater experiences I’ve had this year.
Alexandre Aja (Horns, The Hills Have Eyes) is in the director’s chair for this Sam Raimi-produced monster movie, and he absolutely brings the goods. Under his direction, this movie is lean, mean, and doesn’t pull any punches. Almost the entirety of its 87 minute runtime is terrifically tense and always moving forward. Aja knows how to keep us on the edge of our seats, and he certainly succeeds with this movie. It’s a very promising turn after his past few lackluster efforts.
This movie follows Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a swimmer for the University of Florida, who goes looking for her father Dave (Barry Pepper) when he isn’t returning her calls during the onset of a potentially catastrophic hurricane. When she tracks him down at their old family home near the swamp, she finds that the area has been overrun by alligators who apparently haven’t been fed in a long, long time. The plot is very barebones and exists merely to facilitate gators eating people. There are some forced character moments here and there, but let’s be real, nobody is seeing this film for its story.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Like the plot, the characters are serviceable but unremarkable. The two leads have strong family chemistry, making them very easy to root for. Kaya Scodelario should be commended for her very physical performance as well; her character really gets put through the ringer. However solid the acting is, the characters are still pretty two-dimensional, which isn’t as much of an issue in a film of this nature as it would be for others.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Like the effects, the sound design is excellent and vital. The bone-chilling snarl of the gators was beyond menacing, and worked like a charm for jump scares. The sounds of the hurricane and rushing water were also very effective in building urgency and dread, combining with a score that is standard horror fare but nevertheless effective. All good stuff here.
The special effects on display here are surprisingly solid for a small budget chiller like this. Nature effects are devastating and really sell the destructive nature of this storm. The alligators themselves are very realistic in their movement and appearance, and they’re absolutely terrifying. At no point did I not believe those were real alligators, which speaks to the strong effects work.
Crawl never tries to be more than it is, and that’s exactly why it works so well. Too many horror movies of this nature overextend and fail, but this movie focuses in on exactly what moviegoers want: scary creatures and gruesome kills. It’s an absolute blast, and is exactly the jolt of pure adrenaline that this summer season has needed.