Movie Review: Crawl

My grandmother used to say, “For every pot, there’s a lid.” Similarly, for every trashy film, there’s an audience. So it doesn’t matter what I think of CRAWL because if that’s your kind of film, you’re going to go see it anyways. But if you can come up with just one thing that would make better use of your time and money, you won’t.

The premise for CRAWL is quite simple. A Category 5 hurricane is about to wreak havoc on some of Florida’s coastal communities. After University of Florida (Home of the Gators — wink!) competitive swimmer Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario, EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL AND VILE; the MAZE RUNNER series) gets a call from her sister telling her that their estranged father, Dave (Barry Pepper, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN; the MAZE RUNNER series), who lives in the hurricane’s path, isn’t answering his phone, the young woman decides to go down there, driving past police barricades and signs saying that the roads are under water, to find him. She does, and he’s in their home’s basement crawl space, badly injured by a jumbo-sized alligator that has swum in through a broken storm drain. As the hurricane gets closer and the basement begins to fill with both water and more of the extra-large apex predators, and Haley must put aside her past differences with her father and rescue themselves before they become dinner.

Although CRAWL has obvious and sometimes intentional similarly to JAWS, director Alexandre Aja (HORNS; PIRANHA 3D) is no Steven Spielberg, and screenwriter siblings Michael and Shawn Rasmussen are no Peter Benchley and Carl Gotlieb. CRAWL is nothing more than a chompfest wrapped around a scintilla of a story. Pages of the script must have looked like this:

DAVE

Haley!

HALEY

Dad!

Alligator attacks Haley.

DAVE

Haley!

HALEY

Dad!

Alligator attacks Dave.

DAVE

I’m sorry I was such a lousy father. Now, swim, Haley, SWIM!

HALEY

That’s okay, Dad. I forgive you. Okay, here I go.

Alligator chases Haley.

To her credit, Scodelario, who looks like a young Nicole Kidman here, is completely game and she’s the second best thing about this completely silly film, the best being the various attacks on the story’s minor characters. Pepper, however, who has made a career out of playing supporting characters, shows us why he’s never been a leading man. I was hoping the gators would mince him up quickly but, not surprisingly, that didn’t happen even when, by all standards of reasonability, he should have died a few times over. In a well-written movie, that would be a spoiler.

In a perfect world, films like CRAWL would go straight to video and never make it to the big screen. This isn’t a perfect world though, and the film has already taken in more than US$70 million at the box office off a production budget of just $13 million. That probably means that CRAWL 3D will be coming.

Watch the review recorded on Facebook Live on Friday, August 30th, 8:30 am HK time!

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