Ewan Gleadow

Movie Review: Crawl

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Copyright: Paramount Pictures

Nothing, and I mean nothing, is scarier than a crocodile. Or an alligator. Whichever one is present in Crawl. My point is that having these scaled reptiles swanning around your flooded home just isn’t an ideal scenario. I know it, you know it, and so does director Alexandre Aja, who brings us this latest horror film of his. With or without reptiles, trapped in a hurricane sounds like a harrowing time, especially if, like me, you forgot how to swim. Still, knee-high water is only scary to toddlers or the aquaphobic among us, although neither would find themselves at war with a nest of gators.  

Bland characters mingle with obvious foreshadowing, but Crawl welcomes these tropes with open arms. Comfort can be found in its predictability. Shamefully aware of its inability to bring this genre up to the great heights it never reached, Aja instead attempts to bring fun into the mixture. Good, horrifying fun. Honestly, expecting almost nothing from this probably helped tenfold. Aja is fine as a director for this sort of film. He’ll never hit the big heights of critical acclaim, but Crawl is well suited to his style of no-nonsense direction. In and out with time to spare, we’re given the usual treatment this genre can provide in startlingly fast time. It doesn’t make Crawl admirable or bland, in fact the blur between the two is worrying at times.  

I’m no expert on battling these horrible creatures, but kicking them barefoot and knocking their heads in with a screwdriver doesn’t strike me as the best way to go about defending yourself. Filled with the usual jumpscare nonsense and faux tension that appears in these relatively sour films, Crawl can’t do anything much to separate itself narratively from those better, flashier films. Repetition appears rather often in this one, a character goes through the stressful horror of tightening a makeshift bandage around their leg, only for the same thing to happen a second time almost immediately after. Not so much a repetitive area to traverse as much as it’s a way to pad out the running time.  

Yet another reason to stay away from Florida. When you go into Crawl, your only thought should be of fun, and how much you’re having. The apex predator, apparently, is the alligator. Crocodile. I don’t care. Neither does Crawl. They’re interchangeable at this point, whichever ones are closest to this east coast hellscape. It’ll surely work for some, and it’ll be completely repugnant for others. As hard as it is to avoid the rather underwhelming performances and rather crass dialogue, it does serve a relatively important purpose of getting us from A to B. Fair play for trying to showcase the dangers of hanging around underneath homes, especially when there are giant lizards down there, but I’d be lying if I said Crawl was wholly enjoyable. Sluggish, a bit underwhelming, I guess you could say the pacing slows to a crawl.