Crawl, directed by Alexandre Aja (Horns, The Pyramid), is the newest natural disaster/monster movie to hit theaters this summer.
Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile) is a student and swimmer at the University of Florida. During the threat of a category 5 hurricane hitting the coast of their state, her older sister mentions that she hasn’t heard from their estranged father (Barry Pepper, Maze Runner: The Death Cure) in a while. People are evacuating to escape the storm, but Haley decides to race against it and drives home to check on him.
Haley doesn’t find him in his condo, so she checks her childhood home–her family’s home before her parents’ divorce. She eventually locates him in the crawlspace beneath the house, unconscious and bleeding. As she attempts to drag him out, she realizes that there is a massive alligator down there with them. She moves her father and herself out of the gator’s reach, and from there, it’s a race to escape the slowly flooding crawlspace without getting eaten or drowning.
The tension of the film lies in the relationship between Haley and her father; she struggles with her confidence as a swimmer and blames herself for her parents’ divorce. Her father assures her that she had nothing to do with their decision to split up and that she knows deep down that she’s a fighter and an “apex predator” (which may be technically correct, but the phrase doesn’t really help when people are getting EATEN BY ALLIGATORS). If she were six years old or even fifteen, this would be charming and cute. However, she’s twenty-something, so it’s a bit cringey.
Honestly, there is nothing particularly dazzling or memorable about this film. The pacing is fine, the effects are good, and the acting is believable, but it’s not anything special. The trailers made the gators seem as if they were some kind of mutant/monster gators, but they’re just regular gators, which is not quite as interesting. It honestly seemed like your average day in Florida. The movie follows a basic formula found in many films: family issues/estrangement, natural disaster brings them together, family must overcome their differences and work together to survive the elements/monsters. It doesn’t really bring anything new to the genre and was just okay, but it will probably withstand the test of time better than the newest Godzilla movie.