Crawl (2019). Film review of the movie about man-eating alligators during a hurricane

kaya scodelario holding a torch in the horror film crawl
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Horror

image four star rating very good lots to enjoy

Film review, by Jason Day, of Crawl the horror about a young woman who has to save her father from hungry alligators who invade their home during a hurricane. Starring Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper.

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Synopsis

Florida-based student Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is a swimmer who, if she believed in herself, could become a champion.

During a hurricane her mental and physical strength are tested to the limit as she battles to save her father (Barry Pepper) who has been wounded by an alligator in the basement of their former home.

As a hurricane batters the land, the water in the basement rises making it easier for the alligators to get to them. Haley summons up the courage inside to make sure she and her father survive.

Review, by @Reelreviewer

See ya later, alligator!

In a while, crocodile!

Lyrics (by Bobby Charles) from ‘See You Later, Alligator, sung by Bill Haley and the Comets.
poster of the horror film crawl

Given the relentlessly grim, gripping atmosphere in Crawl – impeccably maintained throughout by master Aja, the man behind the eye-popping, genuinely terrifying descent into hell The Hills Have Eyes (2006) – the above choice of song to close the movie is a brilliantly glib touch.

It’s not entirely unexpected – for what other song could the filmmakers have chosen?! – but it also neatly draws a line under the proceedings. Truth be told, with the number of violent reptilian attacks our heroes miraculously survive (no matter how many body parts are shredded off), the film was getting to the stage of preposterous.

Clever Aja then for keeping the duration short (very short; it runs to less than 90 minutes) and the action tight. Apart from a couple of routine moments where the characters embrace and sum up their lives, successes, failures and congratulate each other, there’s not a second wasted.

Irrespective of how it eventually tires your patience, Aja lobs enough seat-gripping moments to make you soil your underwear BIG TIME. I’m not prone to cinematic evacuations, but there’s only so much squirming you can do before the man levees break. I might as well have chucked my knickers in the bin after seeing Crawl – no amount of scrubbing and Vanish Stain Action will shift those stains.

It would take Barry Scott and a tanker of Cilit Bang! to make an impact on my gusset!

British audiences will be most familiar with Scodelario for her part as Effy, lusted after by most of the hormonally challenged characters. She is a smashing lead here.

Now firmly established in the Hollywood firmament after her appearances in The Maze Runner series and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017), this inexpensive for Hollywood flick (it was made for a paltry $13.5m) is already gobbling up box office dollars and looks set to be a runaway sleeper hit, thus enhancing her US standing.

To make an acting impression when all you have to do is look anxious and/or scared, scream a bit and take a pounding from CGI monsters takes some doing but with the slimmest of roles, a good American accent and convincing physicality, she handles the lead with guts and aplomb.

Haley’s father calls her an ‘apex predator’ when she shows promise as a swimmer as a child so the analogy between her and the real predators she has to fight against are megaphoned to the audience. With such a well tooled basement at her disposal (spades, screwdrivers, a dead coppers gun), it’s surprising Haley is so hesitant a heroine.

Pity poor Pepper who’s practically polished off by the alligators, whose bellies swell as they consume more and more of him. One of the more stomach churning moments sees him do perform some DIY doctoring on a compound fracture to his leg in bone crunching glory. Hold on to your cinema seats folks, this bit is SERIOSULY GRIM!

FYI – co-produced by Sam Raimi, of The Living Dead and Spiderman fame.

Find out more about Crawl on the official Paramount Pictures webpage.

Cast & credits

Director: Alexandre Aja. 1hr 27mins/87mins. Paramount Pictures/Raimi Productions. (15)

Producers: Alexandre Aja, Craig J. Flores, Sam Raimi.
Writers: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen.
Camera: Maxime Alexandre.
Music: Max Aruj, Steffen Thum.
Sets: Alan Gilmore.

Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark, Ross Anderson, Jose Palma, George Somner, Anson Boon, Ami Metcalf, Tina Pribicevic.

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