Florida Gators, well known for their basketball and football abilities, along with terrorizing families in hurricanes.
The types of gators featured in “Crawl” refer to the latter, although a horror movie with Tim Tebow would be entertaining.
Anyway, “Crawl” tells the story of Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a college swimmer who’s just wrapping up practice as a dangerous hurricane starts moving in on Florida. The campus and pretty much everyone else in the area opt to evacuate, but Haley finds out her dad Dave (Barry Pepper) hasn’t been answering his phone and could still be in the path of the storm.
Haley travels to her home town and in fact does find her dad at her childhood house. The problem is that Dave has been severely injured in a crawl space by an alligator which is still around the area. With the storm producing floods as time goes on, Haley and her father are in a fight for survival, both against rising water and more gators brought in as a result.
Directed by Alexandre Aja and written by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, “Crawl” is about as good as you can get with a creature feature, and is probably the best picture of its kind since the 2016 flick “The Shallows.” The suspense and tension of the situation is very well showcased here, with the situation already being dire and only getting more dangerous as time goes on.
What pushes this movie up a notch, though, is how it handles its characters. Haley has somewhat of a strained relationship with her dad and their arc is resolving their issues through this event. Their relationship gives the movie heart and something to latch onto, as it never feels phoned in or like just a throw-away B-plot.
Credit has to go to Scodelario and Pepper here for the great work they put. These characters really go through hell and back throughout this flick, and it’s convincingly portrayed by both actors.
Scodelario is especially strong here. As the lead character she’s on her own plenty of times and she puts the movie on her back and carries it in these sequences.
Praise can also go toward how Aja and his crew created the creatures here. “Crawl” is very reminiscent of “Jaws” in how it approaches its creatures, often hidden by water or the darkness, putting a person on edge for when they show up.
The reported estimated budget for the picture was $17 million, and the crew made the most of it. While the special effects may not be the best an audience may see this summer, Aja and company did solid work here bringing a natural threat to life.
The camera work here by Maxime Alexandre also looked solid, with a lot of underwater shots and the lens following characters through tight spaces.
Overall, “Crawl” doesn’t reinvent the wheel with the genre, and also despite a short runtime, it does feel a bit too long since there’s a point when it could have ended and didn’t. However, this is still an above average B-movie, perfect for a matinee. 3.75 out of 5.