Gator Needs Food Badly
Played straight despite the concept’s absurdity, Crawl brings genuine thriller tactics between moments of blundering decision making. There’s not much call to take action against climate change – good luck convincing skeptics typically docile alligators will eat them during a hurricane – but that’s no doubt the intended catalyst. Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario fair fine, a made-for-the-screen broken family dynamic at play amid the attack. At 80-minutes, Crawl doesn’t have time to bore.
Bypassing 4K (even if it seems like a movie calling for it), Crawl’s Blu-ray handles this sensibly subdued material with care. Overcast and rain dictate color grading, flat with a few examples of stand-out primaries (Scodelario wears a vivid orange hoodie early on).
In spite of storm clouds, exteriors bump up brightness, blooming even. Crawl looked like this in theaters too. More than likely that’s an effort to hide the digitally-made city shots, but it works as an interesting, unconventional aesthetic. Besides, most of Crawl takes place in a basement where black levels dominate, sometimes crushing, if not often. Better, light pushes in with brute force, adding a stellar dynamic.
Via the crisp source and firm encoding, sharpness sticks out with an allowance for plentiful, consistent texture. Close-ups draw out fantastic definition from the cast, extensively so as the water takes over. Every drop is noticed. A touch of noise doesn’t cause too much bother.
Crawl screams for an Atmos/DTS:X mix, but the choice is DTS-HD 7.1. To note, it’s great material. With all the rain and sound happening overhead, it’s also missed opportunity.
Regardless, rear channels capture steady rainfall. Inside homes, the storm pelts siding or roofs, leading to consistent ambiance. Splashing water and sloshing gators move about the soundstage, adding tension. Underwater, speakers fill totally.
Then the LFE kicks in, hearty with a tight output. Action scenes push extremes. Not uncomfortable, if enough to agitate sensitive members in the household. Range picks up as requested, certainly adding a jolt when going from dialog to an attack. Levees break late with an awesome thrust. Thunder finds a nice medium to play in, adding balance to this aggressive mix.
An alternate opening is presented as a motion comic, with a separate introduction from director Alexandre Aja, which is only 30 seconds. Seems like a waste to split them. Three deleted scenes add a small bit of character, running for six minutes. Beneath Crawl runs 28-minutes, richer than most BTS featurettes these days. The core idea is explored, and how the team came up with it. Category 5 Gators explores the effects process for 11-minutes. Then finally, there’s a compilation of Crawl’s alligator attacks that runs a bit over a minute.
Crawl isn’t smart, but it offers a balance of disaster movie and monster movie tropes in an entertaining way.
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