Review: Crawl

I found myself with a little extra time last night so I decided to kill a couple hours by going to see Crawl. The trailers looked kinda silly but at the same time the effects looked kinda cool, so my thinking was “why not give the big dumb alligator movie a chance?” And honestly, I’m pretty glad that I did. My hopes were not high for this movie, given other past movies I was comparing it to in my head: Anaconda, Tremors, Deep Blue Sea, Lake Placid, etc. You know, big dumb horror monster movies where most of the people get ate and eventually they find a way to blow up the monster in the end? (Spoiler warning, if you haven’t seen any of those movies that is how they all end…sorry). Thankfully, Crawl was so far and above those cheesy summertime blockbusters. I can’t believe I’m saying this but this is a summer movie that I’m recommending you go see in theatres if you like horror monster movies. And if you’re not a big fan, it’s still a really good movie for it’s genre to watch later.
One of the best aspects of this film is that it kept itself very contained. Director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D) didn’t feel the need to explain a giant backstory for why the alligators (yup, there’s more than just the one in the trailer!) were there or go into loads of family/friendship drama or even really focus on anyone other than the two main characters, daughter Hayley (Kaya Scodelario, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile) and her dad Dave (Barry Pepper, Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile). The movie kept to it’s core the entire time: A daughter and her dad find themselves trapped in a house surrounded by alligators during a massive hurricane. The benefit in not having to survive a jungle or an underwater research lab (like those previous films) is that the thought of being trapped in your childhood home surround by a threat is a much more realistic scenario you can more easily relate to. And that brings the terror. They play the horror elements quite well in this movie. The gators are big, but not unthinkably big. There are a few jump scares but they didn’t go over the top, and they knew when to hold back at a time when you would expect another one, which I love way more than when they actually occur. Some random characters get eaten, and even better is that several are “bad people” where you will find yourself almost rooting for the alligator to get them! Chomp.
The two main characters played their environment very well for the most part. They didn’t make some big speech while standing next to open water in the floor (looking at you Samuel L. Jackson) or hide from a Graboid (Tremors’ monster) by sitting on a tire…..*stifling a laugh*. Sure, they got pretty chomped up themselves throughout the movie (it is a horror film after all), but they made decisions quickly, moved around wisely, and only made risky, daring efforts for important things: cell phone, boat, radio, flares, dog(?). They were very calm and collected for the majority of the time, and it helps us relate to the characters more and cheer for their survival because like Darwin said, “smart people should survive” (direct quote, btw). The two actors also played their roles well. There were a couple cheesy dad moments, but for the most part they acted as if you hope you would in their situation and they didn’t go over the top with fake screams and noises. They obviously knew what movie they were in and didn’t take things too seriously, but maybe just enough for it to really work.
There are a few things you have to be willing to overlook in this movie. 1) The daughter is a college swimmer. Has a scholarship and everything, been swimming since she was little. And she’s pretty good. But people can’t out-swim an alligator. It’s just not gonna happen, not even for Michael Phelps. Even he gonna get chomped. 2) If an alligator bites onto you and drags you around for a bit, it’s not going to leave just a few bleeding tooth marks. They have one of the most powerful bites ever recorded in the animal kingdom. They’re taking a souvenir. 3) It’s my understanding that although they rely mostly on movement to track their prey, while an alligator’s sense of smell isn’t as sophisticated as a shark, they can also smell blood within a reasonable distance. There are a few times where this is blatantly ignored in the movie, and I think they could have addressed it at least once. However, they did do a great job showcasing the movement and the ways that alligators kill their prey (trying to drown them or by barrel-rolling in the water). 4) Infection. Some characters might survive this movie nightmare, but they’re gonna need some serious medical attention for more than just bite wounds because that water is nasty.
All things considered, this movie was very fun. It played as a horror movie and stuck to it’s guns the entire time, including knowing when to call it quits (run time is only 89 minutes). The CGI for the alligators is incredibly lifelike and the storm looks very real as well. In addition, they did some underwater shots as if you were looking from the gator’s point of view and it was really good camerawork. The feel of the film was frightening but also good vs. evil in a way, and if you want to know who the true apex predator is, get to your nearest theatre and see Crawl for yourself. Thanks for reading, cheers!

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