‘Crawl’ Review: Killer Gators Are Good Fun, But This Summer Guilty Pleasure Has a Scary Message

IndieWire | 7/12/2019 | Staff
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The thrill of a great B-movie is its unapologetic commitment to entertain at all costs. With giant killer alligators converging on a hurricane-stricken home, “Crawl” certainly aims to deliver those goods. Once the first gator bursts into the watery Florida basement where ace swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario) has arrived to save her ailing dad Dave (Barry Pepper), “Crawl” becomes a claustrophobic pileup of variations on the same harrowing challenges: Evade those jaws as the flood waters rise.

And so they do. Darting through a tangled mess of pipes and cords, weaving through narrow pipes and gasping for every breath, Haley and Dave anchor a taut, bloody survival story that takes no compelling turns whatsoever. Ace genre director Alexandre Aja simply delivers on expectations without the slightest curveballs. Unlike the zany thrill of his cartoonish anything-goes remake “Piranha 3D,” this aquatic monster movie is strictly by the book.

Artfulness - Way - Crawl - Aja - Script

Still, there’s a certain artfulness to the way “Crawl,” which Aja directed from a script by sibling writers Michael and Sean Rasmussen, establishes its main scenario. Haley’s a competitive swimmer who has dealt with anger and rejection for much of her life, in part due to lingering resentment over her parents’ divorce. When her sister rings to ask her to check on their dad ahead of a looming Category 5 hurricane, she rolls her eyes and works her way into the seaside community, evading police blockades in the process. When she finally gets to Dave and finds him trapped in a small corner and already badly injured, “Crawl” becomes a frantic riff on the father-daughter bonding story. As they breathlessly catch up and talk through the various ways in which this broken family missed its moment, every life-or-death close encounter becomes a microcosm of the uncertainty behind their relationship.

Mostly, though, “Crawl” unfolds as a series...
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