You go to Crawl
for some quick jolts, and the movie provides. It's an effective and lean delivery system for jump scares, many of which are handled quite well here. And at only 87 minutes, the film knows how to deliver its simple premise without wearing out its welcome, or padding itself out. If you want a movie that will make you jump more than once, this will do.
The movie is a joint production between two filmmakers who know their way around a thriller - Sam Raimi (of Evil Dead
fame) serves as one of the producers, while Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3D
) has directing duties. By combining both of their strengths, the movie excels. On Raimi's side, we have a tightly paced and tense story that is centered around a sole location, with the lead characters trapped by something that is hunting them. In this case, the hunters are some massive alligators that are clearly made by a computer, but are still effective when they leap at our heroes out of the water. Aja is a filmmaker best known for his over the top gore, and the movie does provide some gruesome kills. If there seems to be a smaller body count than usual, it's only because the cast in this movie is quite limited. Still, when the gators do chomp down on someone (such as an unfortunate police officer, or some teens that are looting a convenience store during a hurricane), the water turns plenty red.
The movie wastes no time in setting things up, as pretty much right in the opening scene, college student Haley (Kaya Scodelario) gets a phone call from her older sister, who is worried about their estranged father (Barry Pepper). A Category 5 hurricane is brewing in Florida, and Haley is the only one close enough to check on him. We witness in flashbacks that Haley used to have a relationship with her father, as he coached her with competitive swimming, but they have grown distant in recent years. She heads to her old family home, where she finds him in the cellar severely injured and with some broken limbs. The source of his injuries? A pair of massive gators are now patrolling the rapidly flooding cellar, and there are even more outside of the house, waiting to chow down on anyone who comes close offering to help.
From this simple premise, Crawl
manages to create a claustrophobic atmosphere of constant danger. Both Haley and her dad will have to face a series of dangers as they try to contact anyone outside, or find a way out of the cellar that won't alert the alligators that are constantly on the watch for any moment in the water. The movie makes good use out of its limited environment, creating different hazards, and areas that offer temporary safety. The heroes must use different things like pipes and wires that will block their attackers from reaching them, as they strategize different ways to get out of their surroundings. It's kind of clever how the movie keeps on throwing new situations at the characters, such as keeping dad's beloved dog Sugar safe, or Haley finding herself trapped within a bathtub with a gator just outside, blocked by a glass frame door.
Along the way, both characters find time to mend their broken relationship, which sounds a bit corny at first, until you realize that people stuck in such a situation probably would be talking about things to keep themselves sane. The whole family aspect does not eat up too much of the film's time anyway, as this is largely a fast-paced survival movie. It's a B-movie through and through, but one that has been made by people who are smart about the genre, and know how to keep things moving. The movie's not really concerned about realism. Haley finds her various limbs trapped in the mouth of one of her attackers numerous times throughout the film, manages to escape, and keeps on swimming and fighting with little difficulty. But, the movie is tense enough that we don't really care. It serves up enough quick jolts to be satisfying for those looking for such a film.
The only real complaint I can find with Crawl
is that it could have used a sense of humor, or maybe some morbid jokes to make the audience wince and smile at the same time. At least the movie ends on a good laugh, as the end credits are accompanied by the song, "See You Later, Alligator