Why do you need all those mystical, made-up monsters when nature already has an arsenal of real ones? Sharks, tigers, pythons, alligators, wolves etc. are perfect antagonist players in survival horrors. Crawl is one such disaster movie that makes high-grade use of one of nature’s top apex predators – not us humans, but alligators. Tremendous bite force, can’t move around much, but you’ve learned to keep your distance. You fear them, but you don’t have to be on a look-out for them. Majority of human-alligator encounters happen in zoos, where the humans are safely outside, scrutinising the reptile in their cages. They don’t instil dread in you. That is until you’ve seen Crawl.
I’d say Crawl does for alligators what Jaws did for sharks, but the film’s not that well made. It is, however, better than what it deserved to be. The movie follows a simple premise – our swimmer protagonist is on a mission to rescue her estranged father, who’s trapped in a crawlspace under their old house. Two problems – a category five hurricane is incoming, and some killer crocs have found their way into the house. Their mission? Leave the drowning house along with the family dog.
The human element of the story takes us through a cliched and familiar storyline of a father pushing his athletic daughter to the edge. A lot is done to depict a once-loving relationship that got strained over time through flashbacks. It’s not that I don’t appreciate backstories, character development, and reasons to root for someone, but it kept getting in the way of a lean, mean, survivalist story. A sequence comes up late in the story when the alligator’s got a nice chomp on Kaya Scodelario’s arm, in which she is holding a gun. If you can fire that weapon multiple times, effectively killing the huge beast, I’ll admire your conviction no matter who you are.
Some technical aspects of this feature film that deserve praise include the excellent production design and the thumping soundtrack. The visual effects must be forgiven because the entire time it seemed like it was all done on a sound stage. Outdoor shots had lightning issues, dark clouds looked painted on, and those CGI helicopters were an embarrassment. It might have served to provide a charming B-movie feel, so I’ll let it pass.
If you’re in the mood for a well-made gore about killer alligators, expendable supporting cast and a dog you wish wouldn’t die – don’t miss this one.
Rating – 3.5/5