Ever since Jaws terrified audiences in 1975, filmmakers have attempted to find success by pitting man against beast. This has resulted in releases of varying quality, with most ending up on the poorer side of the scale. From director Alexandre Aja, Crawl is a fun creature-feature that unfortunately fails to become anything more than serviceable.
The film follows a young woman and her father, trapped in a flooding home as a gigantic alligator threatens their lives. When it comes to the cast, Kaya Scodelario leads the movie alongside veteran actor Barry Pepper.
For those looking for a popcorn flick, there is a lot to like here. In a world where marketing often deceives audiences, what was promised has been delivered. This is a film about people trying to escape an alligator in a hurricane. If that premise piques your interest, then you will likely have a good time. Although this is a solid release, the mediocre leads and frequent tonal issues stop it from being great.
The characters that push the narrative forward are average at best. A backstory is established but it is regrettably paper-thin. Again, this is essentially a B-movie with a budget, so most people will not expect anything more. However, some more depth would have helped to create more tension. It must also be mentioned that the film is not very scary, in large part because of how it veers a little too far into “cheesy” territory.
The story tries to be pretty serious for the most part. The script wants us to care for the individuals in this dire situation. With this in mind, it also sprinkles in moments that almost play like a goofy slasher. By themselves, these scenes are rather entertaining, but they also make it hard for us to care about the overarching deadly scenario.
With this and Piranha 3D in his filmography, it is clear that Alexandre Aja is quite comfortable making crowd-pleasing monster pieces. Although he struggles to create an end product that is more than just popcorn fun, he has once again proven that technical proficiency is not a failure of his movies.
Adding this film to the history of alligator/crocodile releases, Rogue (2007) still stands tall as the king of the genre. That does not mean that Crawl is not an enjoyable ride, because it is. In truth, the flaws that appear are largely expected and you could do much worse than this 90-minute thriller.