In a summer where plenty of would-be blockbusters are withering at the box office, and plenty of potential moviegoers seem to be staying at home to watch Netflix, size and scale remain selling points for the theatrical experience. So far this summer, this limited-location thriller to beat is the under-hyped Crawl.
Crawl is a “creature feature” horror/thriller in which a hurricane-stranded Haley, played by Kaya Scodelario, matches wits with a pack of alligators. The setup is an ingenious hybrid of disaster movie and creature feature: college student Haley drives to her Florida hometown in the midst of a massive hurricane, she ignores evacuation orders to search for her missing father Dave, played by Barry Pepper. Finding him gravely injured in the crawl space of their family home, the two become trapped by quickly encroaching floodwaters. As time runs out to escape the strengthening storm, Haley and her father discover that the rising water level is the least of their fears.
Content to explore its small-scale setting, the movie never drifts off into location-hopping weightlessness as Haley swims, jumps, and yes, crawls around various tight passages and makeshift waterways. When the alligator bites come, they feel especially toothsome thanks to practical gore effects, and the stunt work creates a more believable athleticism for its character - much more so than stars who must be replaced by a CGI wire-frame cartoon every time they do something superheroic.
Expect lots of blood and gore: characters are chewed to bit, limbs are ripped off, plenty of gory cuts and wounds, and a whole lot of dead chewed-up bodies floating in the water. A gun is fired at an alligator, a woman is thrashed against the walls, and a character painfully sets his own broken leg. While this movie may not have much to say about the world, it’s simple, compact, ingenious, and flat-out terrifying.
In a season of mostly underperforming franchise blockbusters, this tiny, trashy film is a fun change of pace. This killer-alligator movie Crawl is a solid antidote for a disappointing movie summer. An action-packed creature feature that’s fast, terrifying, and benefits greatly from a complete game Kaya Scoledario, Crawl is a fun throwback with just enough self-awareness to work.