Crawl: Film Review

When I saw the trailer for Crawl I thought it was going to be pure trash. But you know what? It was pretty damn entertaining!

Kaya Scodelario is Haley, a competitive swimmer (handy), who discovers a hurricane is about to hit Florida. Neither she nor her sister can get hold of their dad Dave (Barry Pepper) so Haley drives down to his home to investigate, despite authorities warning her not to. She eventually finds her dad in the crawl space under her house but they can’t escape because there’s a ‘gator in there with them. Trapped and with water slowly rising, the duo must find a way out.

What I love about Crawl is the central relationship between Haley and her dad. Time is taken to establish why they haven’t been in touch and to make us want to care about their reconciliation and survival. This may be a silly alligator movie but at least these two characters are built properly before it goes to crazy town.

Crawl isn’t scary in the obvious horror sense. It has gory, wince-inducing moments, a couple of jump scares and a heck of a lot of building tension whenever they venture out of their safe space – but it is mostly a fun, thrilling ride. It also doesn’t fall into a ton of clichés, which is refreshing – I was delighted to see Haley using a wind-up torch so we don’t get that horror movie trope of it cutting out. I also loved how random people were introduced simply to be gruesomely dispatched, just like The Shallows.

At first, I couldn’t fathom how this simple premise could sustain an 87-minute film but it cleverly introduces new problems, ups the stakes even more and expands the world to keep us interested. The film is largely set in that one location (side note: do all Florida homes have these crawl spaces? Don’t seem safe) but it does expand to the outside world eventually. The film is slightly let down by some dodgy CGI in those outside parts, but the alligators looked decent.

This is a demanding physical role and Scodelario carries it easily and keeps the whole film together. You care for her character and she is so strong and kickass. Her dad was well-rounded enough and their relationship had depth, while their pet dog Sugar was also cute.

There have been plenty of alligator/crocodile movies in the past – Lake Placid springs to mind – and the premise does make you think of Sharknado but this isn’t as stupid, unoriginal and ridiculous as you’d think. It’s slightly silly but just run with it because it’s one thrilling, entertaining ride.

In cinemas Friday 23rd August 

Rating: 4/5

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