Director: Alexandre Aja
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark
Screenplay: Michael Rasmussen, Shawn Rasmussen
87 mins. Rated R for bloody creature violence, and brief language.
I was a big fan of director Alexandre Aja (High Tension, The 9th Life of Louis Drax) when he burst onto the filmmaking scene, even if I didn’t love his remake of The Hills Have Eyes (though it is a superior film to the original). I respected his eye for horror, and I think his Piranha is one of the best horror films ever made. He disappeared for a few years, but now he’s resurfaced with another creature-feature, this one inspired by actual events that took place during Hurricane Florence.
Crawl is the story of Haley (Kaya Scodelario, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), a competitive swimmer, searching for her father Dave (Barry Pepper, Saving Private Ryan, Maze Runner: The Death Cure) as a Category 5 hurricane sets in. Haley finds herself trapped in the crawl space beneath the main floor as it quickly floods and having to protect herself from deadly alligators.
Crawl had a great trailer, but one wonders with a film largely set in one location whether the trailer is really showing everything, and I will say this: if you are interested at all in this film, don’t watch the trailer as it does give away some third-act plot points. Overall, though, Crawl is an excellent single-location thriller with two standout performances and a whole lot of shocks and intensity.
The screenplay, from Michael and Shawn Rasmussen (The Ward, The Inhabitants), bolsters a strong storytelling speed that keeps the momentum up for most of the film, save for a good fifteen minutes at the start as the pieces are put in place. It’s an important fifteen minutes but it is a slow start.
Director Aja is known for pulling as much tension and horror from a premise as possible, and he’s knocking it out of the park here, but he is able to pull some emotion from this struggling father-daughter relationship as well, something I’ve not seen him as successful with in the past.
Our two leads in Scodelario and Pepper work very well together. You can feel their strained relationship as they work together to escape this potentially impossible situation. It’s a frustrating movie but only because it always feels unwinnable, and none of their attempts go without risk or pain. There’s a lesson I once learned about creating great characters, and it is that you cannot let your characters win without suffering. These two suffer a lot in this film, and I’ll leave it open-ended whether or not they “win” after all that suffering.
Crawl is an excellent thriller that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats. The film races along, creating obstacles one after the other. This is a pull-out-your-hair movie at its finest, and a terrific theatrical experience.
-Kyle A. Goethe
For my review of Alexandre Aja’s Piranha, click here.