Film Review: Crawl

Frances Winston reviews this creature-feature, and finds it works!

Directed by: Alexandre Aja – Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Ross Anderson, Anson Boon

This film is probably hoping to do for alligators what Jaws did for sharks (and Sharknado did for ummm…Shark Tornados) – turn them into figures that instil horror at their mere mention.

Set during a category 5 hurricane (an Alligator-nado perhaps) this finds a father and daughter (and their dog – just for the awwww factor) trapped in their home, which has become overrun with alligators due to the flooding.

Conveniently, the daughter, Haley (Scodelario) was an aspiring champion swimmer, before an accident made her too nervous to compete anymore. But of course, being a strong swimmer is still a useful skill to have in a situation like this. Unfortunately her skills are of little use to her father, Dave (Pepper) who is unconscious and wounded. So, with the alligators on the loose, and the water rising, they have to keep their wits about them, and attempt to navigate a safe passage out.

Yes, this is cheesy. The whole premise is ridiculous. But you know what, it works – probably because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Back in the day, this would have been the type of B movie creature-feature that Saturday matinee audiences lapped up. Former Skins star, Scodelario, gamely gives it her all, even when the story hits new levels of ludicrous, and she proves a very grounding force here. Which is just as well since she is in nearly every scene.

Pepper has little to do except be stoic – and it’s nice to see a script that has the women taking charge – but he does have a good presence, and has some lovely scenes with Scodelario.

As for the Alligators. Well, they are very convincing, and indeed they are suitably terrifying when needs be. They’re not quite up there with Jaws. And you won’t find yourself afraid to go into the water (or the basement) but you will jump out of your seat at times, and perhaps have a whole new respect for the species.

Cinematography-wise, this is very dark. VERY dark. I appreciate that there is supposed to be a storm, but it does make it difficult to see what is going on at times. This has become something of a trend in horror movies, and it’s not a good one. It would be nice to see what is going on without squinting. That aside, this works because it is completely self-aware. It knows what it is, and it sticks to its premise. Yes, it’s cliché-driven, but it doesn’t matter. It just wants to give you a couple of hours of escapism. And in that it succeeds.

If you like your creature-features cheesy with a side of cliché, then you’ll enjoy this. Just don’t take it too seriously. Because it certainly doesn’t tale itself seriously!

In Cinemas Now!

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The new LGBT magazine; available online, for download and on podcast. It's time for another view.
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