After a short period of abstinence, Alexandre Aja returns to horror cinema and dedicates himself to… CRAWL animal terror in the form of ravenous alligators. Thanks to the lack of humor, it’s fun, but even he can’t reinvent the genre. We reveal more about this in our review.
Low budget: “Crawl” was made with production costs of just $13.5 million.
The plot summary
When a violent storm hits the Florida coast, former competitive swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario) ignores all calls to evacuate in order to search for her missing father Dave (Barry Pepper). She finds him injured and at the end of his strength in the basement of his remote house, which is trapped by the floods, and she tries together to free him from this prison. But as time dwindles to escape the storm, the two find out firsthand that the rising waters harbor another, far greater danger: ravenous alligators who will do anything to get to their live prey…
Crawl Movie Meaning & ending
The animal horror film genre has been in the shark’s fin for many years. The supposedly voracious sea creatures have left their teeth mark, especially in the trash segment. This year, another entry, “47 Meters Down: Uncaged”, is coming to cinemas after the first part of the series became one of the most successful indie hits of recent years in the USA. Alexandre Aja (“Horns”) is very familiar with the horror genre and even took on ravenous sea creatures in 2010. His splatter comedy “Piranha 3D” now enjoys cult status among fans and even resulted in a not-so-successful (and respected) sequel. The fact that, after turning away from rough horror, he is now heading back into harder territory with an alligator thriller, of all things, has raised the hopes of many fans that he will at least produce solid directing work. And that’s exactly what “Crawl” has become: solid. For his human-versus-alligator fight, Aja uses the cramped chamber setting of a flooded basement, in which Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper (both of whom already know each other from the “Maze Runner” films ) and Barry Pepper take on several of the ravenous monsters must. This is not innovative, but it is effective.
Haley (Kaya Scodelario) and her father (Barry Pepper) must stick together to escape their ravenous enemies.
Especially for an animal horror film, “Crawl” is currently enjoying a particularly positive response from critics and audiences. Above all, the lack of humor is positively highlighted by many. And that is absolutely understandable, after all, especially in the profession of animal horror, which is far removed from logic and realism, many pitfalls are simply avoided with a wink and irony. Alexandre Aja and his screenwriters Michael and Shawn Rasmussen (“The Ward”) don’t do that. Your film is serious and the immediate danger from the ravenous reptiles is omnipresent. This ensures that the oppressive atmosphere – fueled by the very reduced setting (until shortly before the end “Crawl” takes place exclusively in the flooded basement of Dave’s house) – is maintained for a long time. Short but effective spikes of violence and a handful of jump scares, on the other hand, primarily satisfy adrenaline junkies. However, you only notice to a limited extent that Alexandre Aja was responsible for directing this film. In the case of “Crawl”, he was unable to direct in such a detached manner, as he was able to do with his French terror films or “Piranha 3D”. This film is a shocker aimed at the general public and, with two or three exceptions, avoids overly graphic violence and blood. It all somehow fits together into a coherent overall picture (read: it is questionable whether “Crawl” would have actually been a better film with more violence), but who can assume the gore content of “Crawl” from the name Aja? , you could be disappointed here.
“The film is serious and the immediate danger from the voracious reptiles is omnipresent. This ensures that the oppressive atmosphere – fueled by the very reduced setting – is maintained for a long time.”
At the same time, the lack of red lifeblood does not mean that the alligators here are squeamish about their work. The scaly animals are not only highly animated, they also have a noticeable body size, so that you can always tell from “Crawl” that people are actually fighting alligators. This applies to the conflicts on land – sometimes an animal weighing a hundred pounds crashes completely unexpectedly through the creaking wooden floorboards right at the father’s feet, other times the crocs shoot at breakneck speed towards their victims, who only just manage to hide can save. In contrast, the alligators are elegant swimmers who – both from a bird’s eye view and face to face with their prey – move through the water as if they were floating and do not seem like a danger at all. Those responsible for “Crawl” have rehearsed the animals’ natural behavior perfectly. And especially for a film that was made with a budget of just $13.5 million, the effects specialists did a great job here. Investing so much money in the computer tricks only worked because the production effort for “Crawl” was otherwise low. Shot entirely in Serbia, the project was created on a detailed set in which the actors had to fight their way through real water and real mud. And this authentic flair is good for the film, which doesn’t feel like the umpteenth studio production.
The actors also do a good job. Kaya Scodelario credibly plays the scream queen, who benefits from a smart script that, at least in terms of the genre, rarely makes her look like an idiot. In contrast to her, Barry Pepper remains passive in the role of her father, but also behaves remarkably cleverly given the circumstances. Still, Alexandre Aja doesn’t completely avoid the pitfalls of such a high-concept film. And due to the (almost) complete lack of humor – exceptions such as a very amusingly filmed scene in a food kiosk confirm the rule – gaps in logic and plausibility are of course even more important. For example, it is completely due to the further course of the plot when Haley desperately searches for her phone, finds it and immediately tries to call for help instead of going back to her safe hiding place. And why the father-daughter team simply doesn’t go far enough from the edge of their various life rafts and why they are repeatedly attacked by the alligators can probably only be explained by the fact that otherwise the film would be over too quickly.
“Kaya Scodelario credibly plays the scream queen, who benefits from a smart script that, at least in terms of the genre, rarely makes her look like an idiot.”
That’s a shame, because “Crawl”, in contrast to its competitors, benefits greatly from the fact that the makers strive for realism. But animal horror cinema probably can’t do without one or two absurd exaggerations in order to both shock and entertain.
Conclusion: “Crawl” does many things better than other animal horror films by relying on atmosphere instead of winks and cheap shocks. However, he can’t do without sensationalism, which is why his film is primarily effective, but only very partially innovative.
“Crawl” can be seen in USA cinemas from August 22nd.