Crawl is the latest feature in our string of "Creature Feature" installments we've been getting each Summer the last few years and after the letdown that was "The Meg" I'm happy to say we're right back on track baby.
I really don't have anything negative to say about this movie other than I would have liked some practical effects to be sprinkled in here and there for the look of the Alligators but even then they still didn't look bad, especially as the Hurricane rose and forced more underwater shots. I just personally would have enjoyed a mix of Practical to go with the CGI cause I'm old school in terms of Horror effects and no matter how good the CGI looks (which again it wasn't bad in this movie) practical will always look better if done with care that is, obviously.
I'll go ahead and dive into the characters since it's a very small cast with only two being worthy of noting although the few others are more than serviceable in their small to smallER roles.
Now this film doesn't take long to get to the point which can be a GREAT thing in these types of films cause we're all here for one thing and one thing only and trimming the fat is almost necessary, but in turn you also lose some character development in doing that so it can be a double edged sword, but this film juggles this fine line in spades. Sure we almost get thrust right into the action immediately, but they give us JUST enough beforehand and find a way to manage to further build that bond amongst the chaos that this Father/Daughter have/had and it does a great job of doing that all while not feeling like it is getting in the way of the fun.
This is a rare feet because typically in this type of movie you get one or the other. We either get bored to death with backstories and character development that by the time the action and scares come we no longer care or we just get the action and scares out the gates with no real development of the characters but we accept it because we're still in for a bloody good time. This film does so well at being able to deliver that rarity of both things clicking on all cylinders.
Haley - Has your typical almost lumped in swimming backstory that would seem cliche because it's the same old "I'm guessing this will come in later" *eye rolls* type of thing tied to her character but I was surprisingly not bothered by it. I think a big reason why was because it was so well done and the way they got to tie the whole swimming portion of the film to her and her dad's relationship it added some previously unforeseen depth to it where originally you kind of felt like you were just going to get a cue as the audience like "oh yeah remember when she showed she could swim earlier" but it didn't come off that way at all cause in a weird way her swimming became as deep as the Hurricane waters that were rising. It was almost the most essential part of her and her father's relationship for better or for worse so it felt earned.
Haley as a character was about as well fleshed out as you're going to get for these kinds of fast paced movies and you definitely feel comfortable as a viewer clinging to her on this journey and legitimately caring about if she's going to make it out of this situation alive, because of how down to earth and cool she is as a character but her already selfless act to do anything she possibly can do to save her dad. She is a very strong leading lady and the movie goes from what could have been a good but forgettable flick to one that is now great and that I'll have in constant rotation amongst the best "Creature Feature" flicks out there.
Dave - Dave as a character initially to me felt like someone who was added fat and the movie would benefit with him being killed off and adding not just an emotional punch to the movie for Hailey cause it's pretty clear right away how much she cares about her dad but also just to rid her of the extra baggage because of how banged up he was, but boy was I wrong! I ended up loving this character just as much as Hailey and whether or not he survives the whole length of the movie or not, I will say there was a part during the movie that I literally said to myself I want both of them to survive, which is crazy because I'm normally morbid and sometimes want everyone to die, but it's far from that in this movie. I was rooting on our two leads to make it out of this horrible situation unscathed and it was because of these two performances that these two actors churned out.
Aja's typically solid Horror directing skills are on full display here and it kind of marks a return to form for the one time hailed director in Horror circles. He hasn't been looked down upon lately or anything but it's just seemed like we haven't heard much out of him lately and this movie works as a great reminder of not only how good of a director he can be at capturing tension but also how excited we can be for what he's got planned for his next project.
About the only thing Aja left out was it could have been more bloody which would have gotten it even more bonus points but the tension and scares more than make up for it. You just expect a little more blood and gore from a Aja film in my opinion.
As I said the tension is clearly playable here which only adds to this being the perfect summer date night kind of Horror movie. It is built by Aja's direction, the cinematography that helps bleed the atmosphere into the film and the levels of intensity ratchet up as the film goes along. As the water rises so does the scares as it gives our two stars less to work with and the Alligators become less spottable cause sometimes what you don't see is quite scarier than what we do see.
The kills aren't remarkable here but are serviceable. I think a big reason why they were just short of great is what I touched on briefly with the lack of gore. Maybe a couple more buckets of blood with a few grizzly practical effects tossed in could have elevated them to that greatness level but they're still good as is.
As far as the setting goes to touch a little further on that atmosphere, I can't imagine the budget here was too big but they make this Hurricane seem as real as can be and the effects on it as it's rolling in are surprisingly quite believable and it made sure to not just be a part of the movie but also being a character in the movie as well as it also amped up the tension quite a bit as if Alligators weren't bad enough?
Then last but not least the plausibility of this film really helps it in my opinion. For me personally I can suspend disbelief a little more than others in movies like this I have found, but this one feels authentic and like a natural situation you'd face with circumstances that can genuinely happen. It seems like Florida is churning out Hurricanes more and more these days and in case you didn't notice they have no shortage of Alligators either and I don't doubt for a second once those waves wash over everything that you become apart of their territory and you're fair play at that point and we tend to get a lot of movies that squander this believability because we're left there thinking to ourselves, why are people still getting into the water or this would never happen! Well, not this movie. Everything about the horrible situation sounds like something straight out of a nightmare all while sounding like something that could definitely take place under a host of unfortunate circumstances.
So if "Creature Features" are your thing like mine or even if they're not your thing, take a date out to this one at the movies ASAP because they will not only be stuck to you like glue from the tension that is built but you will most likely be having a blast too! Don't see this Alligator later, see it right now on the big screen cause Crawl packs a bite you won't soon forget.