A review of Crawl by Ahmed Zayani
Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned creature feature? This quaint horror sub genre saw its beginnings in the 1950s when people’s real life fears of the fallout from the nuclear arms race translated to the big screen, putting the traditional bogeymen of the day in the background, in favor of beasts who were ‘enhanced’ by radiation. This sub genre saw a resurgence in the late 80s and all the way into the 90s where creature features got a second wind with a more grounded ‘man vs the wild’ scope. Many of these movies were cheesy, over acted, and lacked a coherent narrative. I for one loved them inspite of this, and consider many of them to be my guilty pleasures. The sub genre is still alive and around today in the form of low rent, over the top, straight to video features like Shark Exorcist and 5-Headed Shark Attack. On occasion, though, the off little films seems to drop out of nowhere to remind us that there can still be good made out of this sub genre, when good time and effort are invested in them.
Directed by Alexandre Aja, Crawl is a horror throwback that tells the story of Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario), a college athlete who seeks out her absent father (Barry Pepper), as a category 5 hurricane whips their state of Florida. When she finds him hurt, Haley must do the impossible, not just to rescue her father from the ensuing flood, but also from the horde of crocodiles that were drawn out as a result. I admit, when I first heard of Crawl, I thought the premise was a tad bit cheesy. However, I have been a fan of Alexandre Aja ever since I watched his remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes, and he hasn’t failed me yet, so I walked into a screening of Crawl at the Saar Cineplex (#SaarForever), and 90 minutes later, I walked out enthralled and exhilarated. Crawl is not a masterpiece by any means, and the movie does have its fair share of issues, but it is entertaining enough for one to overlook a few of them. The movie is centered around characters interacting with one another and I personally felt that the strength came from the two key players. I’ve been a fan of Kaya Scodelario since when I saw her in the original Maze Runner, and was delighted to see her in the front and centre of a major motion picture. I’ve also enjoyed Barry Peppers’ performances, and remember him being a highlight whenever he appears. Both the actors brought their A-Game for Crawl, taking roles that could’ve easily been boring, and elevating them with their talent. They were fortunate enough to be working with a script that allowed their characters to have some depth, and fleshed them out a bit so the audience could empathize with them. The script has moments that got under your skin, thanks to director Aja’s unique and foreboding style. As a result of the good word of mouth that came with Crawl, Aja has been shortlisted as a potential director for the next Nightmare on Elm Street movie, and I for one can’t contain my excitement. I also love how contained the film was, taking place in one location thus giving it an odd home invasion feel, albeit with crocodiles.