R Dir: Alexandre Aja | Paramount | 1h 27min
Plot: What’s it about?
If not for the success of Jaws, I don’t know if we’d have seen the likes of Crawl. That’s both a good and bad thing. Jaws ranks right up there with my all-time scary movies, but on a more visceral level than that of The Shining (which continues to plague my mind even when thinking about it). But that’s a story for another time. But yes, Jaws paved the way for these unapologetic B-movies that make no bones about how preposterous they are. And many folks, including myself, are just fine with that. I often find it amusing that for every “critically-acclaimed” movie out there, we’ve got a Lake Placid, The Meg or The Shallows. Who says reptiles and amphibians can’t make your time entertaining?
In Crawl, we meet Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a college swimmer who learns that her father, Dave (Barry Pepper) hasn’t been heard from in a while. Despite being largely estranged from him (because what teenager isn’t estranged from at least one of their parents), she goes to his house to make sure all is well and good. And, of course, it isn’t. There’s a Category 5 hurricane about to hit and things go from bad to worse when she finds him injured beneath the crawlspace of his home. And there are alligators out there. Big ones! The hurricane floods the crawlspace (hence the name) and now the duo must figure out a way to escape before drowning. Or getting eaten. Yeah, I forgot to mention that there are prey-seeking alligators that are reveling in the hurricane and looking for fresh meat. Next time you think you’ve had a bad day, think about these two.
The genre dictates that a movie like Crawl be taken with a grain of salt. Your suspension of disbelief is a must otherwise you won’t have a good time. But if movies like Piranha, Sharknado and Primeval are up your alley – then you’ll have a good time. This is a two person show and veteran actor Barry Pepper does fine in his job in the “Dad” role. But in all reality this is Kaya Scodelario’s film and she does a fine job with her role. You’ve got a character who’s on a swim team, plenty of water and man-eating gators. I imagine the shoot was not fun (gators excluded, of course). Films like these are so fun to watch for the simple fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously. That’s the case here and even though we can discern the plot in a matter of minutes, it’s those next 80 (these films are never long) that are enjoyable. You won’t see Crawl at the Academy Awards, but that’s most likely for the best
Video: How’s it look?
Films like this aren’t going to engage the full color spectrum of the rainbow. No, it’s murky. And what else would we expect? Of course it is. Have you ever seen an alligator in full, aqua blue water on film? No. And you never will. Rather, Paramount’s 2.40:1 AVD HD image encompasses the darker side of film in more ways than one. But it’s fine. I found no evidence of grain, blocking or anything that could deter from a nearly flawless image. Did I mention that it’s dark? It is. Turn the lights off, maybe put the sprinklers on outside to get yourself in the mood. It looks good.
Audio: How’s it sound?
There are times when watching movies that I find myself almost literally immersed in the sound spectrum. I mean, hurricanes are supposed to be loud, right? And that’s the case here. The included DTS HD Master Audio track has several moments that really caught me off guard and, yes, there are a few jump scares. Vocals sound perfectly natural, the two main characters are perpetually out of breath (I suppose I would be too if caught under a house with gators chasing me). Surrounds offer a nice overall ambiance to top off the mood.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Introduction to Alternate Opening – The opening is explained, which wasn’t really needed.
- Alternate Opening – We get a motion comic (of all things) that gives us an alternate opening to the film. I honestly have no idea why this was included. It doesn’t really seem to have any bearing or relevance to the film itself and with it being in a “graphic novel” format, it only confused me more.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – Three total, though none really add much to the film. They were wisely cut.
- I Guess I’m Off the Team
- You were Never Going to Evacuate
- Don’t Quit on Me
- Beneath Crawl – The most robust feature on this disc is this 30 minute featurette that essentially tells the entire story. But we do get some nice behind the scenes footage, some looks at the “gators” as well as plenty of comments from director Alexandre Aja (thick French accent and everything).
- Category 5 Gators: The VFX of Crawl – We see how the CGI gators were created, how they appeared different so as not to confuse the audience with there being “one” gator who had it in for the humans and so forth. Producer Sam Raimi wanted that, but didn’t get his way. Take that Sam!
- Alligator Attacks – Some brief statistics about gator attacks. The more you know…
The Bottom Line
Crawl is a fun movie namely because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s basically a two man show and both actors do fine with what they have to work with. The film was actually pretty successful raking in nearly $90 million worldwide on a scant $13 million budget. Suffice it to say, I think we’ll see Crawl 2 at some point in the future.