There’s a creepy sense of disaster around every corner in Sam Raimi’s latest thriller Crawl, that has the viewer often on the edge of their seat. It’s a similar vibe to his other claustrophobic chiller Don’t Breathe, it’s just the antagonist that has changed.
During a hurricane in Florida, Haley goes against the warnings of the authorities to make her way to her dad’s house as he hasn’t been heard of since the news of the storm broke. By the time she gets there, the storm is in full flow, her dad is trapped in the crawl space under the house, the house is filling with water and there’s alligators on the loose, making the most of the new environment. The battle for survival in the remains of the house is the exciting premise for this nail biter, and for fans of this kind of thing, there’s a lot to like here.
Haley is pretty well sketched out for us and her relationship with her dad, and swimming coach, is the glue holding the plot together, and it was nice for the writers to give us a decent backstory to explain Haley’s ability in the water. It’s a small detail, but a detail a less skilled production may have skipped on, leaving us dubious about the characters ability in the water. As the stakes increase, the shocks get tighter, and Raimi is no stranger to filming terrified people in an isolated house, so you get pretty much what you want from the movie. The alligators are well realised, and definitely out for blood. There are a few grisly moments here, earning the film it’s 15 rating. The action all takes place in the same area, while other characters sail into the action, with horrifying consequence.
I hear some people making references to Jaws, but aside from sea based monster animal eats people, the similarity ends there. For a start, there’s more than one creature on display, and the intensity of Crawl is established, then maintained for the entire run time of the film. As a viewer, you are given very little time to stop and breathe, instead Raimi continues to ramp up the action scene by scene. Where the film may have missed a trick, is in the soundtrack. I would have liked a more memorable theme for the animals as they stalked their pray, but it’s a small quibble.
You have to admire the actors, especially our two leads Kaya Scodelario and Barry Peppar, who must have had a rough time crawling through mud, water, debris, blood and gore, and being constantly submerged in water while trying to act and emote. The whole cast do a great job though, and despite some slightly cringe dad encouragement from Peppar, they do a fine job keeping up the level of despair required to sell the plot.
Crawl is a great monster movie, and it’s worth noting that the alligators are much nastier, and scarier than any imaginary monsters that we have seen in similar films. I wonder if there was an early draft where the alligators were going to be alien invaders or awakened under world dwellers. If so, the correct choice was made keeping them as normal gators. All in all, this is a creepy thrilling movie, ideal for a rainy night.