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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Review: Crawl

Director: Alexandre Aja
Screenplay: Michael Rasmussen and Shawn Rasmussen
Year: 2019

Synopsis: Crawl is developed in the middle of a hurricane in the state of Florida in the United States. Hayley and her father get trapped in a crawlspace where several alligators have come in. The relationship between Hayley and her father was damaged by some past events but now they must smooth things out to survive the hurricane and the alligators' attack. 

Alligators have become to the state of Florida like beer to Germany; you can’t say one without the other. The number of encounters and incidents with alligators has caused panic in residents of this state. This known issue is the foundation for the original creature feature “Crawl”. I emphasize on the word original, as the current situation in horror cinema has high budget and widely distributed releases full of remakes, sequels, and prequels. “Crawl”, with permission of “Us”, is one of the few widely released original movies we have received this year. I do not include “Midsommar” here as its distribution has been limited and I am still waiting for it to be available in my region.

When I saw the trailer for this movie it got in me a lot of expectations because of its original content, as well as how good it looked. When I got to know that Alexandre Aja was the director, I did not know what to expect. Let’s recall that in the career of this director he’s had very contrasted movies such as "The Hills Have Eyes", "Haute Tension" and "Piranha 3D", that only coincide in that neither shies away from gore. After seeing it, I have to say that Aja showed he is a great director and it surpassed my expectations.

Hayley, interpreted by Kaya Scodelario ("The Maze Runner"), is a professional swimmer and in her beginnings in this sport was trained by her father Dave, interpreted by Barry Pepper ("Saving Private Ryan"). From the retrospectives in the initial scenes, we can see that her father demanded a lot from her and lead her to think as an apex predator. All of this is important for the plot as the relationship between Hayley and her father is deeply developed and because of the irony of having to face a real apex predator.

For a movie with a simple plot, propelled by a great script by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen ("The Ward") I was impressed with the attention they put on developing the characters and their relationships. Hayley and her father had been through some hard timer in her father-daughter relationship and what a better setting to work things about that in a flooding crawlspace with alligators roaming around. This father-daughter relationship and the beginnings of Hayley as a swimmer play an important part in getting out of this place alive, although in parts I felt they took the coach dad thing a bit too far.  

I guess you would be wondering how did both protagonists got trapped in this crawlspace. The response is basically by ignoring the emergency management professionals. Hayley’s father is the first one to get trapped when he decides to make some repairments in the crawlspace when the hurricane was starting to be felt. Hayley decides to go look for him when he is not answering her calls as the hurricane was starting to be felt even after being advised by the police against doing so. Both have an irresponsible behavior and put their lives and others at risk, which ends with a few alligators waiting to feast.

“Crawl” is full of references from real events as from movies. The plot takes place during a category five hurricane and a similar phenomenon was lived about two years ago in Florida with hurricane Irma. Something I found interesting was that during the hurricane, a group of burglars show up using the disaster as a chance to rob, something that happened during hurricane Irma. They also pay homage to some creature features as with a scene in which Hayley is attacked by two alligators in a scene similar to the kitchen scene with two velociraptors in “Jurassic Park”, underwater shots from the perspective of the alligators similar to those in “Jaws”, and an attack on a boat reminiscent of one of the attacks of the shark on the latter one.

The frenetic pace of “Crawl”, alongside with the great character development and the unexpected attacks and crude visuals, as is expected from this director, make this a very entertaining movie and is already positioned to fight for a spot in the best horror films of the year lists. This movie does everything right and only has some minor flaws, as some script choices and the use of too much CGI that in some parts doesn’t look as good as it should. Besides this, it is a well-done movie that honors its promise to give a great time to the viewer.

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