October 21, 2019  (Web Review)

Crawl

Paramount, 87 min., R, DVD: $30.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $39.99, Oct. 15

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

In this scary aquatic actioner, a Category 5 hurricane is headed toward Gainesville, FL, where top-ranked college swimmer Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) is trying to call her semi-estranged father (Barry Pepper), who has ignored mandatory evacuation orders. Navigating down windswept roads, Haley spies his truck at their childhood home—now sporting a “For Sale” sign following her parents’ divorce. After retrieving the family dog, Haley finds her injured dad in the basement crawlspace, imprisoned by a 20-foot-long alligator that lumbered in through the storm drainpipe. Soon, they are both trapped amidst the arrival of more alligators, as torrential rain threatens to flood the entire area. Based on a true alligator event during Hurricane Florence and scripted with just enough black humor, Crawl is produced by horror master Sam Raimi and tautly directed by Alexandre Aja with classic claustrophobic horror. What makes it work is that the sympathetic daughter/father characters are developed with detailed specificity and impressively embodied by Scodelario and Pepper. Their motivations are credible, and the plot is unfettered by typical horror clichés such as cloying sidekicks and gratuitous nudity. As for the ravenous reptiles attracted to sound and motion, I couldn’t tell which predators were real, animatronic, or CGI. It’s a truly terrifying thrill-ride, concluding with Bill Hayley & His Comets’ rendition of “See You Later, Alligator” over the closing credits. Recommended. [Note: Blu-ray extras include the production featurettes “Beneath Crawl” (28 min.) and “Category 5 Gators: The VFX” (12 min.), deleted/extended scenes (6 min.), an alternate opening motion comic with intro (5 min.), a segment on “Alligator Attacks” (2 min), and bonus DVD and digital copies of the film. Bottom line: a solid extras package for a compelling thriller.] (S. Granger)