Crawl is a film where what you see is what you get, doing exactly what it says on the tin. This is a straight-forward, basic, nuts-and-bolts, B-movie that’s competently put-together by Alexandre Aja. Aja manages to craft a survival horror flick that appeals to the more mainstream audiences yet still has enough to appeal to the horror cinephiles, much more so than his Piranha 3D which was just something that existed. It has a simple premise in a young woman trying to save her father from a pack of escaped alligators whilst in the midst of a torrential hurricane, and yet Aja somehow makes that effective, confining most of the action in the basement of a soon-to-be-sold house, creating a tense and claustrophobic experience.
Aja uses the dark and dank spaces to his advantage, using only the pipes as the protective barriers between our protagonists and the gators. As the film progresses, the situation escalates further and further and it’s to Aja’s credit that the film doesn’t feel like it’s outstaying its welcome, justifying its short and brisk 87-minute runtime. At the centre of everything is a story about a daughter reconnecting with her estranged father, putting their own personal struggles to rest and working together to survive the oncoming gators.
While this subplot isn’t entirely original and is a tad cliched, it’s thanks to the central performers that the personal journey of these two characters comes across as strong as it did. Kaya Scodelario is the one who truly stands tall as the central heroine fighting to keep herself and her father alive, nailing both the emotional and the intense physical aspects of her character efficiently, yet Barry Pepper is no slouch either as he too gives a solid performance. As for the gators, well, it’s fair to say that the CGI wasn’t exactly convincing, to say the least.
Though not entirely original, Crawl is a fun, suspenseful thrill-ride that’s expertly crafted by Alexandre Aja, who clearly loves and understands the genre he’s working in. The claustrophobic sets are utilised efficiently and the two central performances are rock solid throughout. It’s not going to revolutionise the horror genre by any stretch of the imagination, but if you want to be entertained by a nuts-and-bolts horror flick, then this will do its job.
Dir: Alexandre Aja
Scr: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper
Prd: Alexandre Aja, Sam Raimi, Craig J. Flores
DoP: Maxime Alexandre
Music: Max Aruj, Steffen Thum
Runtime: 87 mins
Crawl is out on DVD and Blu-Ray on December 16th.