Updated: Nov 25, 2019
Every few years a movie comes along that is brilliant in it’s simplicity. These movies often take place in one location, pitting a protagonist against insurmountable odds. Die Hard, Alien and Halloween are good examples of such films. More recently, The Shallows proved that it is still possible to wring out the tension from a Man (or in this case Woman) VS Monster, movie set in a single location. The plot, in case you haven’t seen it, involves a surfer, who after being attacked by a Great White Shark, finds herself trapped, by the beast, only 30 feet from the safety of the Beach. Our heroine must use all her wits and survival instincts to outwit the prehistoric predator and make it back to the shore, hopefully with all limbs still attached. It worked wonderfully and the film was a hit, both critically and commercially.
Crawl has more in common with The Shallows than the other examples I mentioned. It too features a Woman fighting for her life against, not one but many predators, in this case, big, hungry Alligators. Not only has she made the Menu of these ravenous Reptiles but she is stuck in the crawlspace of her fathers Florida house as it slowly fills with water due to a category 5 Hurricane that’s blowing outside. To add to her already hefty list of problems, her injured Dad is stuck down there with her so she also has his well being to shoulder. What follows is a pretty intense, race against time to escape the confines of the crawlspace before they drown, all while avoiding becoming the main meal at the Alligator, all you can eat Buffet.
While Crawl is up there with a few of the films I mentioned earlier, it’s by no means a perfect movie. There are a few issues that are hard to overlook. Firstly the Hurricane is pretty inconsistent. It’s supposed to be a category 5 and while I don’t pretend to be a meteorological, super sleuth, I do understand that it means that it’s some pretty serious weather. At certain point’s during the film the wind appears no worse than anything I have experienced while eating an ice cream on Cromer Pier. The next grievance would be that it’s totally baffling as to how Alligators work. At one point during the film we are told that Alligators don’t hear that well underwater but can see perfectly both submerged and in the dark. A little later, these Alligators seem to swim right past the main characters without knowing they are there, simply because they stand still. In another scene one of the Alligators jumps from the water and grabs a Police Officer who isn’t even in the water and therefore isn’t splashing around to alert them of his presence, but… you know. Standing still in water... It’s all very confusing. I also found the fact that the main character, Haley, being a skilled, competitive swimmer just a little convenient. I get that it helps to explain the prolonged underwater sequences. I’m a 43 year old, heavy smoker so I would have drowned long before the Creatures got to me, but that kind of plot convenience can feel a little lazy.
A few issues aside though, the film moves at a brisk pace that helps keep the tension built for it’s duration. Alexandre Aja (Switchblade Romance, The Hills Have Eyes) delivers solid direction, making, what would otherwise be a B-Grade movie feel bigger than it really is. The Creature effects are well realised and never come across as cheap, cheesy CGI. When they occasionally sink their teeth into some unlucky, on screen, cannon fodder it’s both believable and wince inducing.
All in all, Crawl is a solid, creature feature. It’s refreshing to have a main character that is both smart and believably efficient at keeping herself alive. It’s short runtime means it doesn’t outstay its welcome and if you allow yourself to be drawn in, it’s a pretty tense, fun time to be had.
Crawl is available now in the US:
And available in the UK on December 16th: