Does for Florida What Jaws Did for Water

Alligators do not really do what they do in Crawl. To Crawl, the catalyst might be climate change and the resulting category 5 hurricane. That agitates a local gator farm. Or, maybe they hate the thin family drama at the center of Crawl. Regardless, alligators do no not throw people to other gators in the midst of a feeding frenzy. That’s movie fantasy.

But it’s a dorky thriller about man-eating reptiles, joining the sharks-in-a-supermarket entry Bait and infamous self-titled snakes-on-a-plane romp. Forget logic. Now it’s alligators-in-a-house, trapping an injured Barry Pepper and on-screen daughter Kaya Scodelario between a number of hungry, growling Floridian natives, plus rising flood waters. It’s precarious.

If any laughs jump out in Crawl, they do so because of morbid humor and fascination with seeing bodies mutilated

Ditching any comedy or kitsch value, Crawl plays this scenario straight with Pepper trying to win back his estranged daughter among these exceedingly wet circumstances. As human nature tends to go, trauma brings people together, and Crawl offers lots of freakish occurrences. Bones snap, arms tear, bodies split, and one poor sucker ends up like Quint from Jaws.

People do dumb things in this movie. The two leads discuss divorce and self-blame with flood waters rapidly rising rising in the crawl space. Not smart, but Crawl tries to legitimize itself. Or, stopping to check a cell phone while defenseless rather than grabbing the device and retreating to safety. Any great horror, slasher, or creature feature does this – everyone has a different way or solution out. Crawl cleverly uses these dumbbell moments for visual pop. Say, an alligator tail moving in the background, out of focus. That’s a capable chill.

Director Alexandre Aja handled another water monster flick, 2010’s kitschy remake of Piranha, but draws on none of that film’s kookiness for Crawl; Aja can do both horror comedy and horror drama it turns out. If any laughs jump out in Crawl, they do so because of morbid humor and fascination with seeing bodies mutilated. So, Crawl is fairly often hilarious. Shyness for violence is not a quality Crawl understands.

If the barometer for a movie like this is whether an audience cares for the characters, then Crawl finds limited success. It’s not the people though. There’s a dog. Poor little mutt Sugar endures rain, flood waters, and snapping carnivores on this journey. People do too, but the dog matters in a story that barely qualifies as a placeholder. The dramatic center isn’t whether Pepper and Scodelario escape this climate-driven chaos, rather an innocent dog.

Caring more for the dog is probably a sign of an empathetic failing, or the expectations for a movie like this. Either way, Crawl finds enough success in setting, tone, and looks.

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It’s implausible nonsense, but that’s what makes Crawl a fine entry into the monster escapism genre.

User Review
2 (2 votes)

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