Review: Crawl

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

PLOT: During a Category 5 hurricane in Florida, a young woman attempts to save her injured father before the devestation gets worse. However, her plans are put on hold when she realizes that the storm is not the only monster to contend with.

REVIEW: One of the most compelling themes in cinema for this viewer has always been the concept of man versus nature. The idea of us fighting off the elements and desperately trying to survive is a fascinating one. However, oftentimes the final product rarely lives up to its promise. For every JAWS, you have dozens of subpar copycats barely passable as a feature film. In the new feature CRAWL – the first from Alexandre Aja since 2016’s THE 9TH LIFE OF LOUIS DRAX – the filmmaker takes us into the eye of the storm. If a massive Category 5 hurricane isn’t scary enough, how about adding the element of a hungry alligators on the attack? This is the premise behind this lean and mean creature feature, and frankly, this impressive adventure is about as good as you can get with this premise.

Kaya Scodelario is Haley Keller, a young woman who receives an urgent call from her sister. It seems that their father, Dave (Barry Pepper), isn’t answering her calls. With a massive storm approaching, Haley decides to make her way to his home to see if he's okay. When she realizes that he isn’t at his apartment, she returns to the family home that is currently in escrow. There, she finds that her father has been injured with deep cuts around his shoulder. After she finds him unconcious, Haley attempts to bring him to her car before the weather gets worse. Unfortunately for both, she discovers that the old house has an unwelcome visitor hiding in the shadows. Not only must she  and her father avoid the rising waters, but they must also try to avoid the grip of an alligator’s deadly jaws. With only a slight hope of someone coming to their rescue, the two battle the beast and the massive storm that surround them with very little hope of survival.

Crawl, Alexandre Aja, Sam Raimi, Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, alligators, horror,

Crawl is the perfect summer movie. It’s relentless, with edge of your seat thrills that should be experienced with a crowd. This fast paced thriller presents a simple story, yet it does so with characters that you actually care about, and a series of shocks and jolts and truly work. Running just under 90 minutes, there is not a wasted moment here. For filmmaker Alexandre Aja, this new feature is certainly one of his best. Returning to the palatable dread he gave us with HAUTE TENSION and THE HILLS HAVE EYES, the director has crafted a brilliantly suspenseful take on the man vs. nature sub-genre, one that stands out in a sea of mediocre tales of killer animals on the loose.

As far as the cast is concerned, CRAWL takes a minimalist approach. The story really revolves around both Haley and Dave. The minor characters – a few of them function as alligator meals – all work rather well in the films structure. Instead of just adding a body count, they connect to the leading characters enough without making it seem like wasteful fodder. Yet it’s both Scodelario and Pepper that add the humanity to this particular story. Both actors are terrific here as they are able to bring this killer alligator flick a bit of heart. The strained relationship between the two only adds to their performances, giving horror fans two characters that they can root for when the jaws of death arrives for a light snack.

Crawl, Alexandre Aja, Barry Pepper, Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, horror,

This kind of story is easy to mess up. Oftentimes, the danger in this type of film is when the final product is too silly to be scary, or the main characters are less than interesting and far too dumb. However, in CRAWL, the horror on display is damn near nerve wracking. The performances and the running time help, but it also works simply because the monster in question is scary as hell. The second you hear that low growl, you know things are going to get dark. The alligator and storm effects are beyond impressive – especially considering they probably worked with a smaller budget. My only minor complaint is something fairly common for a movie like this, there are a few questionable things that these characters do, but that was a minor issue.

CRAWL is one of the best thrillers of the year. This fast paced man versus nature tale is filled with tension and it manages to do exactly what it sets out to do. The suspense builds, the actors are terrific, and the alligator is a fierce and powerful beast that will have you clenching your fists and jumping out of your seats. Even if you aren’t necessarily a horror fan, this is the kind of movie that will please action fans as well. While there are certainly a few cringeworthy moments when it comes to on-screen brutality, it never feels out of place or simply shock for shocks sake. Even the jump scares are used wisely creating a scary viewing experience. With a solid script written by Michael Rasmussen, and Aja at his best, you don’t want to miss this summer scare fest.




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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.