Dan's Review: The gory, scary fun of "Crawl"
Jul 13, 2019 11:49AM
By Dan Metcalf
Kaya Scodelario in Crawl - © 2019 Paramount.
Rated R for bloody creature violence, and brief language.
Starring Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Anson Boon, Jose Palma, George Somner, Ami Metcalf, Moryfydd Clark, Annamaria Serda, Savannah Steyn.
Written by Michael Rasmussen and Shawn Rasmussen.
Directed by Alexandre Aja.
Over the past four decades, no one has been able to match the runaway success of Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws (1975), though many have tried, especially recently. This type of film is not exclusive to killer sharks, even though there has been a recent surge in shark survival movies ranging from the outright ridiculous (Sharknado) to the serviceable (The Shallows). But sharks aren’t the only critters with big teeth, leaving the door open for similar-themed movies involving other predators, including alligators. The latest "killer animal" horror movie is Crawl, featuring a swarm of gators out for blood during a devastating hurricane.
Kaya Scoledario stars as Hanley, a swimmer for the University of Florida (yeah, their mascot is “The Gators”). Somewhat estranged from her father Dave (Barry Pepper) after her parents’ divorce, Haley is called upon by her sister Beth (Morfydd Clark) to check on Dad (who is not answering his cell phone) as a major hurricane approaches Florida. When Haley finds Dad bleeding and near death in the crawlspace under the family home, she also discovers the reason: a huge alligator lurking nearby, driven by the rising hurricane waters. The rest of the movie involves a desperate struggle to survive as more gators converge on the home and surrounding swampland village. A few other hapless people show up and are summarily eaten alive by the growing horde of gators, leading to an exciting finale as Haley uses her swimming skills to outsmart the “pea-brained lizards” terrorizing her and Dad.
Crawl is indeed gory and horrific, earning plenty of jump scares and cringe-worthy moments of death and dismemberment. It’s a bit of fun you’d expect from a movie involving killer gators and a brave young woman fighting for her family’s life, keeping the action and suspense going from the middle act to the tense conclusion. The movie may not be even close to the quality of Jaws, but it taps into the elements that keep you on the edge of your seat.
As for ecological science and actual animal behavior during hurricanes, let’s just check our “reality” sensors at the theater door. I’m no marine biologist or zoologist by any stretch, but I’ve taken enough college classes to know that gators don’t really behave as they do in Crawl. If you like a good scare and are willing to overlook such things, Crawl will get your skin crawling enough for a little summer escape from reality.
I dunno if the Florida Commission on Tourism will be very happy about Crawl (filmed in Serbia), but the movie doesn’t do much to sell me on living there, with all the hurricanes and gators and death, (oh my) on display. I’m sure it’s a lovely place, but you’ll never catch me in a crawlspace there.