When a massive hurricane hits her Florida town, young Haley (Kaya Scodelario) ignores the evacuation orders to search for her missing father, Dave (Barry Pepper). After finding him gravely injured in their family home, the two of them become trapped by the rapidly encroaching floodwaters. With the storm strengthening, Haley and Dave discover an even greater threat than the rising water level — a relentless attack from a pack of gigantic alligators.
When I first heard of Crawl I had no expectations of it whatsoever. From the brief glances I got of it, it seemed like a typical creature feature and I didn’t really look into it at all. I wouldn’t have checked it out except I was hearing is was actually pretty good, and it was indeed good, way better than I thought it would be.
Crawl is under 90 minutes long and it makes great use of that time effectively. It quickly sets up the relevant characters (which helps seeing as there’s mainly just 2), it puts them in the positions that they need to be and starts the plot off. The plot is also relatively simple, the main characters need to survive a flood and alligators, it knows what movie it is, and it greatly benefits from that. I also like how the alligators generally act like alligators, like they won’t attack unless there’s they see something, it’s not like they’re constantly hunting for the main characters all the time like a slasher villain or anything. The flaws in Crawl are just those that you’d expect from a movie like this, but there aren’t many. The plot is nothing special and doesn’t lead to much surprises, the dialogue is simple, and the character development is serviceable but nothing great. I’d make a comment about the realism (or lack thereof) if this was a movie that was aiming for realism in the first place. You’ve seen more over the top movies in the genre, but you do have to suspend your disbelief in some parts.
The main lead is Kaya Scodelario and she does quite well here, definitely working as a vulnerable but capable protagonist. Definitely would like to see her in more horrors and thrillers because she’s shown to be great in them. Barry Pepper played her father, and their dynamic is believable enough. There’s nothing to really say about the rest of the cast.
A big part of why this movie worked so well was the direction by Alexandre Aja, he did a good job at continuously raising the stakes and the tension as it progressed. So much of the movie looks practical, mainly the environments, especially the house that most of the movie takes place in. The alligators are obviously CGI but they looked pretty good, and they were ruthless and brutal adversaries for the main characters to go up against. It was actually more violent than I thought it would be, I thought it was a PG-13/M rated movie at first, but the R rating definitely helped the movie a lot. There are some jump scares for sure, but they are earned and quite effective, and not all of them were immediately predictable. The score by Max Aruj and Steffen Thum also does a good job at raising the suspense.
Crawl is nothing that great but it’s pretty good for what it is. Kaya Scodelario was a strong lead, it’s well directed, and it’s effectively suspenseful, thrilling and surprisingly brutal. Quite simply, it’s the best version of the movie it set out to be. It’s exactly the sort of movie that it looks like, and if that interests you at all, then definitely check it out.