Crawl from Paramount Pictures and directed by Alexandre Aja, stars Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario and follows the pair as a father and daughter dealing with the affects of a violent hurricane. Having caused rising flood water to trap a father and daughter in their Florida home the two quickly find themselves in a tense life or death struggle with one of the earth’s oldest predators.
I have always had a fondness for the animal attack subgenre, well at least when it’s done well. Sadly, for every Jaws or Deep Blue Sea there are a dozen Lake Placids out there that keep me away from the theaters. But when I saw the trailers for Crawl it looked like it might deliver on the promise that the best in its genre have always delivered. While I wouldn’t put Crawl quite as high up there as Jaws, it fully embraces what so many animal attack movies forget about: Character.
Crawl is largely a two character movie. As we follow Dave (Pepper) and his daughter Haley (Scodelario) in their struggle against one of the Earth’s most perfect killing machines. While the moments of tension are delivered frequently and with skill, it is the times in between the terror that really make this movie impactful. As the film moves, we discover a lot about Dave and Haley. We learn their history, problems, and their failures. Rarely have I seen characters Feel so fully fleshed out and real in a creature feature. This of course fuels the tension since we aren’t just being shown two dimensional characters for the animals to chew on. In fact, I found myself truly rooting for these two very real feeling people to escape from the jaws of death.
In addition to great characters, the visual design for Crawl is top notch. Everything from the fierce weather to the various alligator appearances looked convincing. I never once felt pulled out of the experience by corny visuals, or hokey CGI. This attention to detail extends even to the areas of the house that the bulk of the movie takes place in. We’re shown everything from the crawl space beneath the building right up to the roof. Nothing ever feels out of place or dislocated from the story or each other and the home feels lived in. This further adds a heightened sense of intrusion into these people’s lives from our predator.
The only major area where Crawl fails is in its portrayal of just what a human being can survive and continue to function. Multiple alligator bites occur that are escaped from and while the damage to the body is, at first portrayed well, within a scene or two it is as if it had never happened. While some would say this is the nature of the genre I would disagree. My genre favorites do excellent jobs of having life threatening injuries be just that and with the time the movie took to breathe such life into these characters the beyond belief escapes and survival felt more jarring than usual.
Crawl is a wonderful popcorn movie that gave me three dimensional characters to cheer for as they struggled to survive. Honestly, if you are a fan of the genre you owe it to yourself not to miss this rare gem.
Crawl is in theaters nationwide.
Crawl is a wonderful popcorn movie that gave me three dimensional characters to cheer for as they struggled to survive.