An absolutely gorgeous post-apocalyptic thriller
Black Crab is a solid Swedish thriller, one that sports an interesting premise, gorgeous visuals and a pretty gripping storyline. Although the second half does tend to meander on a little and there will be mixed reaction to the ending, Black Crab does get a lot right.
The story here feels like a mash-up of Children of Men and Saving Private Ryan. Set in a bleak post-apocalyptic world, two sides are at war, with Sweden hammered back and struggling to cope with this invasion. The radio confirms there’s over 157 deaths when we start the movie but as the story progresses, it’s obvious that number is a lot higher. Why is this invasion happening? What are the soldiers’ motivations? Well, we’re not actually told. That’s ultimately a bit of double-edged sword because on the one hand, the allure and ideas are certainly intriguing but it also feels a little frustrating not to understand the motivations of these nameless invaders.
At the center of this conflict though is a woman named Edh, who’s separated from her daughter Vanja at the start of the chaos. Fast forward in time and Edh leads a resistance group to hit back against the soldiers that are threatening to swallow Sweden into a dystopian hell. The only solution here is for Edh to team up with five other soldiers as they head off on a convert mission across the frozen archipelago landscape to deliver two capsules that could change the fate of this war forever.
The allure of what exactly are in these capsules keeps things engaging but when the reveal does come – around the halfway point of the film – it also brings with it some skewed logic and a plot that slows from a decent canter to a slow-paced trot. That is, until the final 10 minutes or so, which ramp up the tension again for a somewhat mixed ending.
The problem is, this is a story that we’ve seen a lot before in different mediums, both on the small and big screen. Beyond Edh – and Granvik to an extent – most of the other characters play second fiddle to Edh and don’t have a whole lot of depth. Personally, it would have been nice to see a bit more growth from those alongside Edh, as there are a couple of decent set pieces in here that really ramp up the tension.
Unfortunately there are also a few that beggar belief, including one involving the soldiers somehow managing to outsmart a helicopter on the ice. Film enthusiasts will remember there was a similar sequence in The X-Files movie and to be honest, that one holds up a lot better than what’s here by comparison. After all, it’s easier to hide in a cornfield than it is on a vast expanse of ice.
One thing that can’t be denied here though is the aesthetic. My word does Black Crab look good. The chilly post-apocalyptic world feels very real, the haunting orchestral score feeds into that too and the entire movie has an eerie undertone of beauty to it. I guarantee you could pause this film at almost every single establishing shot or wide-expanse of ice and find something to marvel at. There’s something both unnerving and incredibly powerful about watching six soldiers skating across a vast expanse of ice and this movie does an excellent job capturing that.
It’s a shame then that the script doesn’t quite hold up alongside that. Character issues aside, the ending is going to be a point of contention for some people but personally, I think it’s the only way you could end a film like this. In essence, this is movie with a strong first half, a lackluster second half and a decent ending sandwiching it together. Black Crab’s not perfect, and the film could have done with some tightening up and more characterization, but beyond that, this is actually a pretty solid offering and worth a watch.
Read More: Black Crab Ending Explained
Verdict - 7/10