Not entirely sure you can turn your brain off enough to fully enjoy Crawl.
Haley, concerned for her estranged father who hasn’t been answering his phone, travels headlong into a category 5 hurricane to find him. Unfortunately his home has some scaly house guests.
Alexandre Aja, whose career seems to be nosediving, having started out with Switchblade Romance and Mirrors, only to end with Piranha 3D and now this, gives us a rather predictable affair. Unfortunately lead star Kaya Scodelario hasn’t got the best filmography either; from the annoying “scientist” in the forgettable Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge, to all three Maze Runner films.
The film plays out, intentionally or not, as a “what would you do in this situation” movie. Reminiscent of 2010’s Frozen (no, not the Disney movie) after our heroine has found her way deep underneath the family home in the middle of a colossal hurricane. Her father, mauled but not dead, found in the absolute furthest corner of the crawl space. Water gushing through the walls, and alligators already making a home for themselves. The situation starts badly for our two characters; the first gator jump scare manages to take out the stairs into the basement as the beast bafflingly bursts straight through them. What follows is a bemusing sequence of “why didn’t they do that?”
Films with narrow, small focus like this can be exceptionally good. The film was promoted alongside such experiences as Don’t Breathe (an awesome, albeit unsettling, movie) which also had a very claustrophobic, small scale. But Crawl fails to deliver some basic setup devices. We should see the house, we should understand the space and the structure, especially as we spend ninety-percent of our time in there. Setup some surprises for later, some classic smoking gun scenarios (there was maybe one, a door being closed). What happens is just an escalation of ludicrous situations. A favourite is when our basement-trapped heroes get the attention of a police boat, only for the two officers to be killed off in laughable manners: “Why is that playground swing moving underwater like its being aggressively pulled by something??” Gosh, better check.
It takes our characters a surreal amount of time to realise going to the roof is a good idea. You really do start cheering for the gators in several scenes, despite our actors doing their best with the material they have.
There is a nice estranged father-daughter relationship at play, and the sense of claustrophobia is quite real in the basement, even if it is far-fetched.
There’s some grisly wounds and blood effects, which are pretty convincing… But then our characters seem to shrug off horrendous wounds like it was nothing. It is doubtful you can run, jump, climb and crawl when one leg and one arm have been mauled by an alligator!
It was a pretty disappointing experience through-and-through, there wasn’t one scene that felt especially well-written or conceived. Sometimes the gators looked impressive, other times they looked extremely poor (CGI that will date in under a year), sometimes the characters would have good chemistry, but then we will experience some of the worst of on-screen “human stupidity”.
They had a shovel in the basement, why didn’t they knock some of the bricks out from the convenient water-holes in the walls and escape?
Also, how did her father not realise he had a literal alligator nest under his house? You might say that is a spoiler, it isn’t; the fact doesn’t affect the story or the escalation.
Sorry, but you can really skip this one.