I ain’t gonna lie, Crocs and Gators have always frightened the crap out of me, Sharks are pretty scary and if I were lost at sea then they would be my biggest priority but Gators have the added bonus of being shark like and able to cover some distance on land, which means it’s harder to run from one.. long story short, all those fears eventually came flooding back in this strangely heartwarming and slightly predictable creature feature.
Alexandre Aja really astounded his audience with such classics as the blood lusty hellride Haute Tension (2003) which became a cult classic new wave of Extreme French Cinema which you can find a list of here, and in my opinion a very good remake of The Hills Have Eyes (), but something must have really affected him during Piranha 3D (2010) because he eventually came back swinging with Crawl, a water soaked adventure with a lot of predictability but some cracking scares and a super sentimental bonding story between a father and daughter which set this aside from the stereotypical creature feature where lots of mindless young people are systematically picked off by predators.
Young Haley (Scodelario) is a swimming prodigy her father is also her mentor, protector and trainer, but things changed dramatically in the family situation and everyone is scattered about and not really talking, it’s not obvious but a divorce and separation has taken its toll, but when a force 5 hurricane begins to head in the general direction of her craggy father Dave (Pepper) she breaks all the rules to make sure he’s safe. Out in the abandoned thralls of suburbs, Florida find her unconscious father in the basement and within moments, the Gators start to make a nuisance of themselves.
Crawl is a very safe and solid horror, it doesn’t try to push any boundaries or be too clever or trippy, there are no radioactive zombie gators and the leathery predators aren’t super psychic or uber smart like Jaws (1975), but they are still pretty devastating in their own flappy way! After a slow start the movie does heat up a little, there’s some gripping jaw ripping action in between the film getting pulled back to a father and daughter who are both equally sad and sentimental, trying to establish their bonds while being independent and strong willed. It didn’t deliver the amount of blood and gore as I’d imagine possible with a horror corc flick but this style of horror is what I personally expect from a creature feature, instead Crawl is a little more cerebral with modern twists, but sadly it doesn’t do much to really cover over it’s plot holes and whatever Barry Pepper is made out of, needs to go on the market, at one point he gets a limb removed quite violently by one of the hungrier lizards, then casually patches himself up and carries on about his business. I found it odd that the flood waters were crystal clear, good for clarity while filming or generating CGI gators but ridiculously off point, but does horror really need a reality checker?
For the most part the movie couldn’t quite make up it’s mind if it wanted to be sentimental and sad or brazen and scary, it meanders between the two not really making a stand but then not really mastering either situation, the hurt family feelings are poignant but not enough to shed any tears but the sense of danger was never really maxed out and some of the situations just seemed a bit childish in their approach. I think Aja did a noble job but I’d say that he needs to get back to the layers of thick blood and psychological torture in the French countryside before Hollywood totally cripples his style.
R – Rogue (2007), Piranha (1978), Jaws (1975), 47 Meters Down (2017)
L – 10 Awesome creature features Vol 1
A – What makes us so afraid of nature, a little introduction to Eco horrors~
5s – Barry Pepper