Crawl is playing in cinemas nationwide now.
Creature-based horrors have had a rough time over the past few years, from the dire Rampage to the ridiculous The Meg. Here natural predators have been treated as mere action fodder for muscle-bound heroes who aim to demonstrate human superiority. However, with Crawl, director Alexandre Aja (Maniac) offers us a far more nuanced creature horror wrapped in disaster movie themes of climate change. Written by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen and produced by Sam Raimi, Crawl offers some genuinely delicious jump scares while also exploring themes of human arrogance and climate denial.
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As Hurricane Wendy bears down on the Florida keys, its power and destructive force growing hour by hour, professional swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario) receives a worrying phone call from her sister. Their Dad (Barry Pepper) is not responding to her calls, with his work and personal numbers going straight to voice mail. Worried but equally frustrated at her dad’s lack of contact, Hayley decides to drive down the coast to check on him and right into the eye of the incoming storm. On arrival, Hayley finds her dad trapped in the crawl space under his house, with horrific bite marks, leading to the realisation that they are not alone as the flood waters rise.
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Crawl uses a classic disaster movie template to ramp up the tension, from a fragmented family brought together by disaster to the devasting Hurricane surrounding the action. Here the claustrophobia and fear of rising flood waters play to the entrapment of The Poseidon Adventure and The Wave. But at its core, this is a creature horror as a whole host of snappy predators glide through the flood waters looking for their next meal.
Crawl ensures the CGI alligators feel as natural as possible as the tension builds and they adapt to the new water world surrounding them. But that doesn’t stop the narrative from falling into classic B-Movie creature horror, especially in the final act when the terror subsides and lurches into standard Hollywood horror, more the pity. As a result, Crawl runs out of water to swim as it nears the final act and attempts to wrap things up quickly. But despite this flaw, there are moments where Crawl shines in its snappy screenplay and biting tension.
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Starring: Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper
Score by: Max Aruj & Steffen Thum
Cinematography: Maxime Alexandre
Production Company: Ghost House Pictures
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures