In Crawl, aspiring swimmer Haley, goes back to her hometown in Florida after struggling to get in touch with her father during a report of a major hurricane storm. After finding her father unconscious in the basement of their old home, she quickly realise alligators have entered. It becomes a fight for survival as the flood rises higher and the alligators are hungry.
I had the nice surprise of seeing Crawl at a Secret Screening at Cineworld, having no idea what I was about to see. Seems a bit of a risky thing to have their secret film be a horror thriller and oddly enough I didn’t notice as many walk-outs as previous Secret Screenings I attended (The Green Book and Blinded By The Light). Personally I’m glad to have seen it as I was thoroughly entertained.
The plot is relatively simple, no major twists and turns, just Haley and her father’s fight for survival. It’s like watching a survival horror video game: you’ve got alligators as the monsters to fight, and you’ve got different floors of the house like a different level on a game.
It’s very similar to The Shallows where Blake Lively has to fight to survive against a shark while stranded on a rock, though here it’s alligators. The biggest difference is that Haley doesn’t fight off one alligator but several, so after she kills one there could be another one just around the corner.
Kaya Scodelario is great at making Haley a likeable protagonist, and she is easy to follow from start to finish. She has great chemistry with Barry Pepper as her father, as they sell the fact that they love each but have a complicated relationship.
The alligators were mostly convincing; there were moments where they were obviously CGI but were overall effective. They keep them a constant threat to the characters and very frightening for the viewers. The gore effects were also well done, not over the top, but they don’t hold back on the blood and the aftermath of being bitten by alligators.
The film does require some suspension of disbelief. Haley and her dad do get injured quite a bit throughout so it’s questionable how at times they’re still able to fight of the alligators. Being a horror film there are moments where you feel like shouting at the characters “don’t do that!”
Crawl is directed by Alexandre Aja, who also directed other films I really enjoy, including The Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors, Horns and yhe 9th Life Of Louis Drax. He’s very good at building tension, starting off nice and slowly getting the audience to know the characters and their situation, then carefully weaving in the plot and escalating it to higher and darker levels at a reasonable pace and then going all out in the climax.
So overall, Crawl is a fun action-packed thriller, well acted and visually stunning with plenty of scares and gore.
Written by Jack Parish