A Surprisingly Good Thriller
When I first heard about Crawl I thought it was going to be another over-the-top disaster movie akin to Sharknado or The Meg. However, Crawl steers away from that level of ridiculousness, managing to bring enough tension and horror to make for a thrilling and action-packed movie.
The story begins with competitive swimmer Haley bracing a category 5 hurricane to go and check on her estranged father, Dave. As she makes her way through the devastated streets of Florida, she finds her father injured in the crawl space of his house. Trying to save him, she quickly ends up trapped and at the mercy of hungry alligators. It’s a race against time as they desperately try to escape the clutches of the reptiles but also the flooded basement too.
Director Alexandre Aja manages to deliver a decent disaster movie here, skilfully blending tense moments with action and just enough gore to keep things tense. Unlike Piranha 3D, Crawl never becomes over the top and grounds itself in reality. He does a good job mixing disaster elements with the threat of alligators, which helps prevent the film feeling stagnated.
The movie doesn’t take too long to get into the action either and showing the early signs of the hurricane at the beginning does well to set the scene for what’s to come later on. We do see the usual tropes found in these sort of monster-disaster movies though, including tense music and jump scares. However, the use of the environment and, in particular, the crawl space does bring some originality into the movie.
We’re given enough backstory and exposition between the main actors to make us genuinely care for them and seeing the relationship between father and daughter evolve, despite not being that original, is a nice touch too. Focusing on Haley’s career as a swimmer and seeing her legs getting injured also adds to the suspense as we root for her to get out unscathed so that her dad will be able to watch her in competitions again like he used to.
There are plenty of fast and quick camera shots here of course, infusing more intensity and urgency into the movie. The sound editing is done quite well too, especially during certain scenes as the camera plunges underwater. All these clever tricks add some claustrophobia to the movie and kept me hooked throughout.
Crawl has definitely been a pleasant surprise; not the most original disaster movie out there but a fun ride nonetheless. The actors do a good job though and there’s tension present during the majority of the film. While this thriller is only 87 minutes long, there’s plenty of action and gore to sink your croc-sized teeth into and enough suspense to hold your breath if you take the plunge to watch this one.