Today: April 19, 2024

Crawl

How’s this for a high-concept horror; what if, during a hurricane a young girl found herself trapped in the crawlspace of her previous family home with a hungry alligator? Sounds great right? In fact, a similar concept was attempted with the little-seen but genuinely effective Burning Bright, which substituted the alligator for a tiger.

Throw in that Crawl is directed by gore-porn expert Alexandre Aja and Crawl has all the right ingredients to create something terrifying and tense. And yet, it never really does either.

What Burning Bright got so right was its use of a real tiger – albeit cleverly shot to make it look like it was interacting with the cast. Crawl reverts to a more friendly CGI creature and as such always feels like the threat is significantly less.

It doesn’t want to be Jaws, but you cannot help feel that had it at least aimed for such a lofty ambition it might have offered something a little more chilling. This is very much a survival thriller rather than a creature feature horror. The alligators are never malicious, they’re just doing what gators do, eating.

Aja certainly captures some thrilling moments. Some well deployed moments certainly create tension but with such a small cast of characters there never feels like much jeopardy for them, you suspect they’re all going to be just fine. Even the family dog. So when new characters arrive you know their sole purpose is to be little more than gator food. Which would be fine, if it weren’t for the fact Aja seems to be reigning in his gore and going more PG Jurassic World style levels of teeth ripping through flesh, namely not really showing it.

The cliched estranged father and daughter sub-plot is by the numbers but both Skins’ Kaya Scodelario and Saving Private Ryan’s Barry Pepper give nice turns in the lead roles.

It’s not that it doesn’t work, in many ways it does exactly what you need of a film of this ilk. It’s more that it never does anything other than check the boxes expected of it. There are some impressive sets and it always feels high-budget but it lacks in sustained tension and, like most of the film’s sets, just feels damp.

A perfectly fine Friday night film that never dares to be anything more, Crawl does exactly what it says on the tin.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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