Feeding frenzy in Florida
Loosely based on actual incidents, Crawl finds filmmaker Alexandre Aja again indulging in watery terror, having previously steered the outrageous Piranha 3-D to success in 2010. This time around, alligators are the beasts of burden – set loose during a massive hurricane in Florida, no less. They’re big, hungry, and clearly computer-generated … but who’s quibbling?
Sibling screenwriters Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, whose 2015 chiller The Inhabitants was the subject of a 2015 YES! Weekly Visions column (penned by yours truly), don’t spend much time on preliminaries, nor do they need to. This is a monster movie and a disaster movie, and although it hardly qualifies as earth-shattering entertainment, Crawl caters to its intended crowd.
Kaya Scodelario is the resident heroine, a college student named Haley, who happens to be attending the University of Gainesville on a swimming scholarship. This, as you might expect, comes in mighty handy indeed, given what’s to come.
Unable to reach her estranged father Dave (Barry Pepper), she bravely drives right through Hurricane Wendy to locate him. This she does, in the crawlspace of their family home, which has fallen into escrow since Haley’s parents split up. Given the dearth of cellars or crawlspaces in Florida, particularly its coastal regions, this alone might qualify as science-fiction. Not only does Haley find her father in the crawlspace, but she also finds a very large alligator – one of several, as it turns out.
The storm is raging, the water is rising, and the alligators are, as it were, chomping at the bit – waiting to feast on Haley, Dave, and whoever else turns up. These include a trio of none-too-bright looters, attempting to abscond with an ATM from a local convenience store, and a pair of friendly cops. They show up, and down they go. The gators don’t pick favorites, although they do adhere to the tenet of onscreen billing.
Crawl isn’t in the same league – no pun intended — as Jaws (1975), or even Alligator (1981), but Aja keeps things moving at a fast clip, brings some style to the predictable proceedings, and in Scodelario and Pepper, has two actors who bring conviction to their roles. Indeed, theirs are the only characters who matter. Everyone else is immediately expendable.
As for the estrangement between Haley and her father, there’s nothing like a Category 5 hurricane and battling man-eating alligators to patch up any family problems.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2019, Mark Burger.