Certain types of horrors can be rather hit and miss, with monster movies being chief amongst them. When they’re done well, though, they’re spectacular, and Crawl, one of the best of recent years, is currently ranking high on the global Netflix most-watched list.
The film stars Kaya Scodelario as Hayley, a college student working towards becoming a professional swimmer, who returns to her home town to check on her estranged father (Barry Pepper) after a hurricane is set to batter Florida and evacuations have been put in place. The only problem is that after she finds him, their exit is cut off by alligators that have found their way inside. Safe only in the crawlspace of the house where the hungry reptiles are too large to fit, the pair must frantically improvise one moment to the next to survive, not only to avoid being eaten, but also to make it out before the levees break and the entire town is flooded.
Running at under 90 minutes, the story doesn’t waste a moment, and remains consistently varied in both the various thwarted escape attempts and tactics utilized to stay out of reach of the deadly reptilian jaws, while also periodically drafting in minor characters to be mauled and devoured, thus satiating gorehounds who wouldn’t be satisfied for such a tale to have no featured deaths.
The film was helmed by Alexandre Aja, a French director responsible for the gory survival-revenge flick High Tension (aka Switchblade Romance), the remakes of Piranha, The Hills Have Eyes and Maniac, and darkly comedic horror Horns. Crawl most deftly balances spectacle, scares and character development, and more quantifiably is his best reviewed release to date as well as raking in the highest box office tally.
Crawl is exciting, scary, inventive, emotionally touching and grimly humorous, and reminds us that for all of humanity’s global dominance, the assembled forces of Mother Nature are something we can only escape from, never truly defeat.