Alexandre Aja’s latest film Crawl is a delightfully entertaining creature feature that boasts a terrific performance from Kaya Scodelario and truly great tension.
When a massive hurricane hits her Florida town, young Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) ignores the evacuation orders to search for her missing father, Dave (Barry Pepper). After finding him gravely injured in their family home, the two of them become trapped by the rapidly encroaching floodwaters. With the storm strengthening, Haley and Dave discover an even greater threat than the rising water level — a relentless attack from a pack of gigantic alligators.
In terms of flicks that focus on a natural creature as its primary antagonist, Jaws is by far the greatest for millions of people and also the most influential when it comes to the subgenre. Over the years, there have been countless attempts at encapsulating the success that Steven Spielberg’s aforementioned 1975 masterpiece was able to obtain, but to no luck.
Sure, since then there have certainly been some movies that managed to entertain audiences with just enough thrill and entertainment value in the same vein as Jaws, which just may be enough. Crawl is most definitely one of those films. It has a similar sort of vibe, but is ultimately just a highly amusing and supremely entertaining popcorn film. But that can sometimes be okay.
One of the reasons why Crawl works so well is because of its lead actress Scodelario. She has been churning out great performances for years now, and the first time I personally took notice of her was in the 2013 young adult adaptation The Maze Runner, where she played Teresa. She is an actress that is remarkably good at showing a ton of emotion and makes it look easy. Even though I thought she did a great job in her Maze Runner role, her performance here as Haley Keller is by far her best. There are several sequences where she has to scream and cry and she makes it seem so real.
Her father in the film Dave is portrayed by Pepper who additionally gives a good performance here and is one of the best efforts from him in quite a long time. He has absolutely come a long way since his Battlefield Earth days and it shows.
Most moviegoers are going to want to go to the theatre to see this picture for one reason and one reason alone – the alligators – and they are gratefully incredibly menacing and they do pose a big threat for our lead characters. The film constantly gives us new reasons to fear them as the running time progresses and it worked really well. There is tons of blood involved in Crawl as well which made for some impressively gruesome scenes. Anybody with a weak heart should probably stay away.
Speaking of the running time, that was one of the worries I had going into the theatre. It clocks in at a mere eighty seven minutes, not even breaking an hour and thirty minutes in length. When movies are that short, they can often feel bland and sometimes seems like they did not use the concept to its full potential. Surprisingly, Crawl‘s length was just right. Any longer and it would have outstayed its welcome, and any shorter, it would have felt like not enough had happened on screen.
There are some extremely goofy scenes however, and they can at times come across a bit too cheesy. The film takes place in one house throughout, and it is quite silly how this house has holes all throughout it, making it able for the flood that the characters are stuck in to fill up the house. Also, the dialogue can be a bit jarring towards the third act. One line in particular was actually a bit cringe-worthy.
But at the end of the day, this movie did do its job and it did it surprisingly well. Cinema goers that want to experience some good old fashioned creature thriller with a bucket of popcorn will have a ton of fun and I did too.
Crawl can be a bit of a goofy ride, but it luckily manages to stay fun and entertaining due to its great creature elements and a great performance from Kaya Scodelario.
Overall Grade: B
MPAA Rating: Rated R for bloody creature violence, and brief language
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper
Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Running Time: 87 minutes