Alexandre Aja, the cult horror movie director of The Hills Have Eyes, Piranha 3D, and Horns, returns with Crawl, a no nonsense, modern take on the classic creature feature. The film arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Download this week, and I would highly recommend you check it out. With just two main characters, and one central location, Aja delivers a gruesome, no-frills, and superbly entertaining genre flick. I had an absolute blast with this.
Kaya Scodelario plays Haley, an elite swimmer at the University of Florida. She receives a worried call from her sister that she hasn’t been able to get in touch with their Dad (Barry Pepper), and a category 5 hurricane is on the way. Haley drives through the flooded streets to the lake house where they used to live, and discovers her father bloodied and unconscious in the basement. She attempts to drag him out, but her path is blocked by huge, angry alligators.
Crawl is terrific high-concept horror. Our characters are trapped and injured, the basement is starting to flood, and if they don’t leave soon they are going to drown. But unlucky for them there are gators everywhere. It is fucking brilliant. And to top it all off, Aja and his writers Michael and Shawn Rasmussen have the whole thing done in less than 90-minutes. Crawl is essentially a blueprint for how to make a perfect B-movie. Aspiring filmmakers should watch this and take notes.
The two main characters are sketched out quickly and effectively in broad strokes. The script establishes who they are in the first five minutes, we immediately care about them, and then the director spends the next 80-minutes throwing flesh hungry alligators at them. Aja keeps the tension ramped up throughout, with an amazing use of space and expertly choreographed camera movements. This is a very claustrophobic film, and the relentless tension is rewarded with some brilliant jump scares.
Scodelario and Pepper are both fine in the lead roles, but these are largely physical performances rather than emotional ones. Thankfully, the film moves at such a brisk pace that even the inevitable lurch into family drama is swiftly followed by another chomping attack from the vicious gators. Aja clearly knows what he is doing with a genre flick, as this is a super effective, and tightly wound thriller. Fast-paced, slick, entertaining, and bloody as all hell. You couldn’t ask for any more from a Saturday night popcorn flick.
The Blu-ray release of Crawl comes with some decent special features on the disc. There is an alternative opening scene in the style of a motion comic. It features a family trying to escape the storm and flooding, only to be attacked and killed by gators. It’s really nasty, and quite scary, and comes with an introduction from the director.
There’s 6-minutes of deleted scenes, and in a film this effectively lean, you can see why they were cut. Beneath Crawl is an in-depth 30-minute long making-of documentary, with lots of behind the scenes footage and interviews with all the main cast and crew, including producer Sam Raimi. This documentary provides lots of great insights into the remarkable soundstages they built out in Belgrade for the film, and the challenges of shooting scenes when the entire cast and crew are up to their necks in water.
Category 5 Gators: The VFX of Crawl looks at the terrific effects work that went into creating the gators. And finally, Alligators Attack is a short montage of every brutal gator attack in the film.
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper Director: Alexandre Aja Writer: Michael Rasmussen & Shawn Rasmussen Released By: Paramount Home Entertainment Certificate: 15 Duration: 87 mins Release Date: 16th December 2019
Crawl is available on Blu-ray, DVD and to Download & Keep from the 16th December.