CRAWL / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: ALEXANDRE AJA / SCREENPLAY: MICHAEL & SHAWN RASMUSSEN / STARRING: KAYA SCODELARIO, BARRY PEPPER / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 23RD
After a category 5 hurricane threatens Florida; an aspiring swimmer must battle the elements to save her father from certain death, only to be presented with a much more terrifying foe lurking in the murky waters in Alexandre Aja’s Horror Thriller, Crawl.
This edge of your seat thriller follows Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a pro swimmer who sets off to find her missing father (Barry Pepper) in the midst of the most devastating hurricanes seen on film (that doesn’t contain sharks, zombies or any other strange items). Unbeknownst to Haley, her dad is trapped beneath his battered suburban home and two quickly have to fight to survive against not only the rising water that is flooding the house but a pack of hungry alligators who have escaped from an enclosure nearby.
Even though a lot of the story beats are rather predictable such as the foreshadowing of Haley’s profession which will ultimately be used to her advantage throughout the film, the setting and unrelenting tension more than make up for that. Having the film set in Florida lays the perfect foundations for the thrills that director Alexandre Aja wanted to bring to the screen. Couple that with the fact that the street the majority of the runtime takes place in was a giant water tank set that was built for the film, the realism coming from the actors being able to freely swim in the environment adding raw grit and was immensely impactful.
Throughout the story, the tension and stakes are never lowered as soon as the metaphorical ball starts rolling. After Haley and her dad overcome one hurdle, another much larger obstacle reveals itself, sometimes will a well executed jump scare – For example, during the film as they try to survive, they must essentially transcend three stages of hell as they attempt to work their way up the levels of the house – small spaces and large obstacles creates some truly terrifying moments.
Aja’s direction and attention to detail really shines and fully absorbs the audience in the claustrophobic scenarios that actress Kaya Scodelario was really placed in for the intense shoot. For the full runtime, you are firmly by the side of Haley and on multiple occasions will forget to breathe due to the atmosphere.
That’s not to say that everything is perfect. As previously stated, the foreshadowing of Haley’s skillset did add predictably along with some instances of clunky dialogue which did detract a little from the pacing but ultimately, the fierce performances of Scodelario and Pepper and the realistic actions of our scaly antagonists made up for the minor nit-picks.
Crawl is the definition of good solid B-movie summer fun. Aja’s brilliant world and tension building along with a sensational lead performance from Kaya Scodelario (that rivals Blake Lively in The Shallows) culminates in a thoroughly enjoyable thriller that gives you the perfect excuse to escape from the scorching sun into an air conditioned cinema.