‘Crawl’ // Film Review: We Should All Fear Alligators Now

We used to think sharks are the most terrifying thing to live in the water. After sitting through Alexandre Aja’s Crawl, now I learn that I should have a major fear of alligators, and they shouldn’t be messed with.

What’s the Story: During a category 5 hurricane in Florida, Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) must rescue her father Dave (Barry Pepper) from his home after not answering his phone. As she locates him in the house’s crawl space before the flood starts to rise, they are being hunted by vicious alligators and become trapped in their home with no one knowing their surroundings.  

Kaya Scodelario in Crawl (2019)

Crawl is a simple movie that doesn’t need that much explaining when you know what you’re in for. I don’t trust Aja as a director since he’s responsible for The Hills Have Eyes remake and another horror movie about underwater creatures eating people in Piranha 3D, which is a guilty pleasure B-Movie for some. There was nothing about the trailer that made me think this was going to be worth watching when it probably would take itself seriously and just be ridiculous. From the couple of times I saw it before I saw a movie in theaters, nothing looks impressive. This is one of those cases where the trailer was awful since Crawl turned out to be one rad horror movie that I got a kick out of watching. 

For a movie that was under 90 minutes, this shocked me in how I could be invested in this situation this father and daughter are in when you’re on the edge of your chair trying to figure out how they could get out without being torn apart. Honestly, if this went any longer, those thrills would’ve been ruined. Having the setting in an isolated area where everybody has already evacuated made it feel claustrophobic or even when most of the film takes place in the crawl space. Aja and his screenwriters (Michael and Shawn Rasmussen) somehow made the hurricane element of the story while mixing in a survival story and creature feature together as one that luckily didn’t go for over-the-top.

We’re only following two characters throughout this, and I was really hoping both of them would survive with the help of each other. The performances were excellent from Scodelario and Pepper. Most would know Scodelario for her role in the Maze Runner trilogy as Teresa or just recently in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, but she knocked this performance out of the park.  And it’s good to see Pepper in a good movie since that hasn’t happened in a long time. Their relationship is at a standstill when you can tell that they haven’t talked to each other for a long time.

Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario in Crawl (2019)

There are jump scares provides, and they actually got me. There was an instance of a tree crashing through the kitchen window that I can’t believe I felt for, but as someone watches Haley navigating her way looking for anything to help, there’s no way of wondering where an alligator might be lurking. The reactions I had were a bit surprising. Alligators are in the water, and I just want to tell the characters on screen to move before they get eaten in bloody fashion. Some moments that I questioned are wondering how Haley can still run when an alligator has bitten her leg. That’s one thing about the movie I shouldn’t think too hard, but it doesn’t look realistic. 

A flick like Crawl knows is not meant to be taken seriously. Just when I thought this should’ve been suited better as an original movie on the Syfy Network, that is an opinion I take back after realizing there’s so much to have fun with this. If you’re just looking for a good rental to watch with a crowd that tense, well-paced, and balances human vs. creature in a race against time, here’s your chance to seek this out. Aja crafted something enjoyable with likable performances from Scodelario and Pepper that harkens back to the classic creature features in a good sense. This was WAY better than I thought, and I don’t know why Paramount left this out of the cold before it came out.

Grade: B

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