Tuesday 6 August 2019

Film Review: Crawl

Director Alexandre Aja unleashes an army of alligators on a dysfunctional Florida family during a hurricane in horror/thriller, Crawl.

A category five hurricane, a flash flood and a swarm of hungry, hungry alligators; college swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario) finds herself in the midst of it all when she ignores an evacuation warning to head home and check on her recently divorced father (Barry Pepper), who isn't answering his phone.

After finding her father unconscious in the crawl space beneath their Florida home, Haley races to drag him to safety, with water steadily flowing into the room. But lurking in the shadows is an apex predator who will stop at nothing to hunt them. As the storm intensifies, Haley and her father must outwit and outmanoeuvre the beast as the house crumbles around them.

Directed by horror filmmaker Alexandre Aja, Crawl is a creepy creature feature that that will make your skin, well, crawl. Aja succeeds in crafting a thick fog of tension, putting the audience there in the crawl space with the muddy, bloody main characters. Caked in all sorts of grime and slime, Crawl doesn't look like it was a lot of fun to shoot – but Scodelario and Pepper fully commit to the gruesome gore and frights.

Grounded by these two central performances, Crawl can only be described as short, snappy (pun intended) and damn effective. Like Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen, it gets in and gets the job done in under 90 minutes – you can't really ask for much better than that.

Much like the scaly monsters that it revolves around, Crawl doesn't pull its punches. Aja displays all the ruthlessness of an apex predator; the pace is brisk, the editing is sharp and the camerawork, like David Fincher's Panic Room, does a wonderful job of establishing the spatial geography of the house.

As the water rises and the characters move up onto the next level of the home, the audience seamlessly moves with them, like we've advanced to the next, more difficult level of a videogame. Similarly, the visual effects – such as the nasty alligators and the swirling, howling hurricane – are great.

The Verdict: 7/10

A gruesome and effective creature feature that greatly benefits from Scodelario's committed lead performance, Crawl delivers taut thrills.

Crawl is in cinemas across Australia now.

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