Review: Crawl / Cert: 18 / Director: Paul China / Screenplay: Paul China / Starring: Georgina Haig, George Shevtsov, Paul Holmes / Release Date: Out Now
Hands up if you’ve ever seen a Coen brothers film? Yup, so has Paul China. In an unknown rural Australian town, seedy bar owner Slim Walding (Holmes) has hired a mysterious Croatian hitman known only as the Stranger (Shevtsov) to kill a local garage owner over a business deal that has gone awry. Whilst leaving town with his bounty, the killer finds himself in an accident and shacks up in the home of one of the barmaids, Marilyn Burns (Haig). What was meant to be a romantic evening with her boyfriend for Burns turns into a battle for survival between her and her unwelcome houseguest. Meanwhile, Slim tries to quite literally get away with murder as the police start to investigate the garage owner’s death.
The problem with Crawl is that it doesn’t know what it wants to be. Is it a noir thriller? Is it a home invasion movie? Is it a crime film? It tries to take elements of all of these and cram them into a Coen brothers love letter. Even the Croat hitman is a poor rip-off of Javier Bardem’s character in No Country for Old Men.
The pace is plodding and disjointed and instead of having fun with a twisted killer holding the smart waitress prisoner, we are lurched back and forth between a brooding atmosphere in the house and the bar, where we are reminded for the umpteenth time that Slim is sleazy and not to be trusted. There’s no real build-up of tension and any pay-off is left flat.
The director uses the title very literally on three separate occasions, highlighting how we all end up crawling in this life one way or another, regardless of whether we are dying, fighting for our lives or just trying to get through another day. This is the only real interesting or clever part of this film. Noir is supposed to be slow-burning, but if you don’t remember to switch the kettle on, it’s never going to boil.