Swimming pro Haley (Kaya Scodelario, Skins, Moon) ignores weather warnings during a hurricane to go look for her father Dave (Barry Pepper, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, Snitch) who is not returning any calls. She finds him in the basement of her childhood home, injured by an alligator that escaped from a nearby alligator farm. Together, they feign off attacks while kitting their relationship tighter.
The plot may sound exaggerated and implausible- massive alligators (are they all that big?) wreaking havoc does not sound like a suitable background to mend a relationship- yet all the pieces fall into place to create a warm story about family ties and redemption and keep itself afloat (pun intended). Alexandre Aja does a great job directing this film with very minimal cast, making it feel refreshing and captivating. The film does make use of a fair amount of scare jumps, which can become comedic at times, but it surprisingly manages to peel itself off from just being a light-hearted summer horror. It puts on a mature attempt at tackling relationships and redemption with Haley and Dave making for characters that are easily identifiable with, played rather well by Scodelario and Pepper.
As the minutes go on so does the water level rise in the basement, literally pushing Dave and Haley with their backs against the wall and forcing them to find a way out before the water floods the whole place- if they don’t get out on time, they’ll either drown or be attacked by alligators. And they can’t really ask for help. You’ll see what happens when they try to…
I’m not sure if this was meant to come across, but the sheer alien force of the hurricane could have hinted to the climate change emergency, with rising water levels and extreme weather events. It felt eerie and unnervingly real.
Crawl is simple, straight-forward, with no hidden agenda. It lays its cards on the table in an honest manner and offers a bit of action, a bit of drama and a bit of horror, all wrapped up in a refreshingly real plot expertly choreographed by Aja. It’s what it says on the tin and a bit more. It’s by no means a masterpiece, but films of its type may never be meant to be, and Crawl can stand tall and proud above those.