CRAWL (2019)

  • Release Date: 23/08/2019
  • Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark
  • Director: Alexandre Aja

Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is a competitive swimmer who comes out of a heat to be informed by her sister that her father has dropped off the grid ever since a category 5 storm hit the place he lives in. Haley, who has not seen her father in a while, takes a drive to their old house to find her father. Once there, she finds him in the basement unconscious and with a severe bleeding wound. Before she can put a finger on how he happened to be that way, she is attacked by an enormous Alligator. The rest of the runtime of Crawl is spent on how Halley and her father fight their way out of the basement and to safety as floodwater keeps pouring in raising the water level and giving the alligators access to different parts of the house.

Crawl is just 88 minutes long and the film doesn’t waste a second of that runtime on unnecessary things. We are given just enough insight into the lives of the two major characters to make us care for them and set up the basic premise. We know that Halley has shared a wonderful bond with her father in the past who also happens to be her swimming coach. We know that her parents have separated and that her mother has found another man who she is holidaying with in Paris. We also know that her father has cut himself off from everyone and spends most of his time brooding about the life he has lost. All this information come in a flurry before the Alligator attack and helps us connect with Halley and her father.

Once the attack starts, the film pretty much builds from one tense life-threatening setup to another leaving us gasping for breath. The screenplay plays with your senses and effectively builds up to the last act taking the viewers through multiple harrowing and nail-biting moments. One thing that the film does very well is incorporating the storm as a vital element in the narrative. It is almost a character. There isn’t a moment in the film when the storm is not brewing and affecting what is happening to our protagonists. It always lingers in the background and adds to the already somber mood of the narrative. It is also something that we know at any point in time can change the odds in favor of the alligators. Hence it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the storm is actually a bigger adversary for the characters than the alligators.

Having said that, the VFX team has done an equally splendid job with the alligators. The first time one of it made an appearance, I nearly jumped off my seat. Be it its texture, the sounds that it makes, the way it makes its way on its feet or in the water, everything about it felt authentic and scary. I was also impressed by how intelligently they explained how the alligators made their way into the basement. The alligators get a chance to kill a lot of people and have a bite at our protagonists as well. My only complaint with the rendition of these portions was in the fact that the bite-force of the alligators was not correctly rendered. There was more than one occasion when they bit on to body parts of our protagonists but were not able to chew off the respective parts. Anyone who has seen Discovery TV’s Wildlife shows knows well the force with which they bite and how easily they could decapitate body parts. These portions could have been better thought out.

Kaya Scodelario does a great job with her character. She feels natural in her rendition of her fear and anger. There were moments when the biggest bother for her was stepping on poop inside the basement as she tried to locate her father. However, things turn violent so soon that one could literally see her bewildered about how to react to certain situations. Her camaraderie with her father felt real and it added to the drama. I was impressed by the physicality that she brought to the role. Barry Pepper as her father is routine but he does well enough to not merit any criticism. He spends most of the film with gruesome wounds and thankfully never drops the act. He also does his part well in the camaraderie between him and his daughter and you can take him to be the man who has lost a wife and hasn’t seen his daughter in a while.

Crawl is the kind of film that is entertaining, believable and light on your brains. You don’t have to use your brain or apply yourself too much to enjoy this film and that is precisely why it will be lapped up by the casual moviegoers. It looks costlier than it actually is and the visual effects are flawless resulting in the violent sequences turning horrifying. The director knows how to buildup tension using editing, sound, and visuals which serves the film really well. Watched on a big screen with good sound, it is bound to send shivers down your spine in many sequences. Add to that some good performances and a thoroughly satisfying ending and you have a perfect horror film that can be enjoyed multiple times if I may dare say so.

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)  

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