Belly Up: Our Review of ‘Crawl’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - July 12, 2019
Belly Up: Our Review of ‘Crawl’

Remember when movies used to be fun?

Crawl should have been a silly fool-proof premise with alligators hunting humans in the middle of a hurricane, but it was just a banal mess of a movie that had little to no genuine joy in it (much less interest in trying to scare anybody).

When a massive hurricane hits her Florida hometown, Haley (Kaya Scodelario) ignores evacuation orders to search for her missing father (Barry Pepper). Finding him gravely injured in the crawl space of their family home, the two become trapped by quickly encroaching floodwaters. As time runs out to escape the strengthening storm, Haley and her father discover that the rising water level is the least of their fears.

Crawl could have been a lot of fun but it ended up being a banal exercise that just took itself far too seriously and didn’t play into any of the genre tropes in an effective way and committed the cardinal sin of being boring as hell.

There’s so little nuance in this narrative and it unrolls in a very clunky fashion from beginning to end.  It’s very much of a singular note, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing and Alexandra Aja certainly has enough talent to craft a film that looks like a million bucks and it does but the problem really comes down to the actual script and story.

The script from Michael Rasmussen & Shawn Rasmussen borrows from a lot of other movies in the various canons that it is lifting from and there’s nothing wrong with it but it’s all really listless and banal.  A killer crocodile movie feels like a fun premise and one in the middle of a hurricane should be gonzo gold but it all plays out incredibly seriously and really dryly.  Rather than getting a narrative with the occasional zinger and some fun gore, we get some maudlin drama and anything that is supposed to be scary is actually pretty dull.  There’s only a little bit of genuine tension and while the effects are pretty solid, most of the film takes place in the shadows and dusk of a basement filling up with water so we never really feel the anxiety that it thinks it’s building and the character who are trying to get out, also go against simple logic just in order to advance the story.  Plus I’m so tired as a viewer to see it being a scare tactic or teases in a movie like this that the family pet will meet some unfortunate fate, it’s so lazy.

Aja has done things with more genuine bristle to them, even something like Piranha which was quite intentionally taking the piss and having a laugh, does none of that here and just gives us a crocodile nest that gets washed into some guys basement.  Sure there’s a hurricane and crazy things happen during them, but it would have been nice to have a little more to it than that.

To be fair to the actor’s involved, they don’t really do anything wrong in this film; it’s just that the material lets them down.  Kaya Scodelario is solid enough as the plucky horror heroine trying to kick some crocodile ass and save the day, but with only Barry Pepper to play off of her as her dad the dynamic ended up really maudlin and overdrawn.  Other then the crocs, they really were the only two people in the movie and it needed more movement with more characters to feel more fleshed out and entertaining.

To be honest, when you put Crocodiles with a taste for human flesh in the middle of a hurricane the last thing you ever want your movie to feel like is minimalistic, and that’s exactly what we get with Crawl.  A locked in little thriller that takes itself far more seriously then it probably should have…but look at it this way, at least the dog didn’t die.

When that’s the best you can draw from a movie like this, you know you’ve been left wanting.

  • Release Date: 7/12/2019
This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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