Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Ross Anderson, Anson Boon, Jose Palma
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…an enjoyable swampy romp…
Alexandre Aja’s first real impact on the world of cinema was 2003’s High Tension, a visceral nail-biting thriller (saddled with a desperately stupid ending) that was part of the so-called New French Extremity movement. Since then, Aja’s output has been a little uneven. There have been good moments like 2006’s The Hills Have Eyes remake, and 2010’s Piranha 3D was a lot of gory, goofy fun, however 2013’s Horns was a bit of a mess. Crawl seeks to make Aja’s name synonymous with solid genre gear once again and does a pretty decent job of it, actually.
Crawl tells the tale of Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario), an aspiring professional swimmer with severe, mostly unexpressed, issues with her father, Dave (Barry Pepper). After being unable to contact her father, Haley pays him a visit in the old family home during a severe hurricane. She finds her dad trapped in the basement by a vicious alligator or two, and the pair must work together to avoid being a tasty treat for the toothy mongrels. And that’s it, the entire premise. It’s nothing if not efficient.
Crawl hews closely to the “female protagonist with family issues vs beastly nature” template set by films like The Shallows, and while it’s not quite as solid as that flick, it’s an enjoyable swampy romp. Kaya Scodelario is an agreeable enough heroine and Barry Pepper is always a welcome presence, however it’s the increasingly silly/awesome set pieces that are the star of the show. Aja’s knack for setting up stylishly cruel sequences is on full display here, and as the water rises so do the stakes, leading to a balls-to-the-wheel climax that whimsically disregards any sense of credulity whatsoever and is all the more enjoyable for it.
At its core, Crawl is 87 minutes of lean, tense suspense with lashings of gore and frequent human stupidity. It does everything it claims on the tin and not a skerrick more, and armed with that knowledge it can be a lot of fun.