Nowhere near as trashy as Sharknado, and nowhere near as classic as Jaws, Crawl is a fun Friday night B-movie and perfect for leaving your brain at the door and switching off for 87 minutes. The kind of film that arguably does not get enough of a wide-release these days, Crawl would normally be relegated to the local supermarkets bargain bin. Instead, Crawl defies the odds and delivers an entertaining diversion at a much-needed time.
Set during the events of a Category 5 hurricane, Crawl sees Hayley (Kaya Scodelario) attempt to rescue her father (Barry Pepper) before the storm or the encircling group of alligators get to him first. The unpretentious set-up and straightforward directing from Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) result in a film that never hides its intentions and simply wants to put on a good show. And put on a good show it does. From the opening scene until the closing credits, Crawl excites and frightens in equal measure creating a buzz that other films may disregard.
The suitably small cast have to endure a terrible time here. Crawling through mud & shit, having to deal with all kinds of bugs and spending the majority of the film underwater they truly earn their money here. The cinematography from Maxime Alexandre further enhances the claustrophobic feeling, while keeping the audience up close and personal with the petrified cast. Scodelario summons her inner Ellen Ripley/Sarah Connor (delete as applicable) and puts in a fierce performance as the former elite swimmer desperate to rescue her stricken father. Likewise, Barry Pepper seems custom built for this type of film and enjoys every moment here – despite how many seemingly fatal injuries his character endures.
Despite all its qualities, Crawl does spend some time uncertain of itself. In spite of its B-movie trappings, it also has a family drama lying at its centre and never completely commits to either. An uneven tone is sometimes created with both elements counteracting each other, rather than complimenting. Even so, Crawl perseveres and continues to deliver an almost minimal cinematic thriller. The CGI occasionally falters, mostly on bigger reveals, but for the most part the ‘gators looks as terrifying as they should do. They track their prey and form some stunning visuals as they chase our protagonists through the flooded Florida streets. Kills vary from ingenious to predictable, with one police officer suffering a particularly memorable dismemberment. Sure, Crawl is far from perfect, but as pure throwaway enjoyment it delivers unconditionally.
Crawl is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download.