Horror movies where giant animals terrorize communities are usually pretty freakin' sweet, and even when they're really bad, they're usually pretty good. One of these movies I've been meaning to watch for forever - CRAWL - hit Prime Video recently so I was reminded to finally sit down and watch it. And man, was this film even better than I thought it was going to be. The premise to the film - as with many of these types of movies - is very simple, but with quality special effects, wild twists and turns, and some crazy life or death situations, you can take a very simple story and turn it into something spectacular. And that's just what writers Michael and Shawn Rasmussen and director Alexandre Aja managed to do. I think it's safe to say Aja hit the nail on the head when it comes to creating a really fucked up, unsettling atmosphere and filling it with one of nature's most menacing creatures: the alligator. And not just one alligator, but a pack of alligators! The movie mixes the terror of JAWS with the dreadful feeling of drowning from Titanic and packs it into this neat little box of pure fucking horror. I was very pleasantly surprised at just how grim this movies tone is, as it absolutely helps create this raw feeling of tension in the two actors as they try to escape a watery doom - or being lunch!
There's a category 5 hurricane on its way to Florida, where weathermen are sure that there will be devastating damage done to the areas it rips through. Haley Keller (played by the awesome Kaya Scodelario) gets a phone call from her sister saying that she hasn't been able to get in contact with their dad, so she drives over to his condo just to make sure everything is alright. When she gets there, her dad is nowhere to be found - only the family dog Sugar. Haley puts Sugar in her car and insists on driving to the old family home - which is in an area shut down by the Florida Police - but she blows past them and makes the risky drive to the home. She sees his truck out front - a good sign! - but once she makes it inside the house, she begins to notice things are not good. She makes her way down into the basement and finds her dad has been attacked - and the culprit is a tremendous and powerful alligator who's fucking hungry. Haley and her dad Dave (Barry Pepper) need to figure out a way to get past the massive creature, but there's only one issue: the basement is beginning to fill with flood water, and turns out there's more than one alligator lurking around under the surface. Will help be able to make it to Haley and her dad in time, or will they all be swallowed up whole by the massive beasts?! Find out in... CRAWL!
The visuals for this movie are phenomenal; there's a lot of gloomy, dark shots in the basement that really help accentuate the atmosphere of dread that this film sets once it really takes off (which isn't long into the movie at all). But what really caught my attention throughout the movie was the epic underwater shots that will absolutely induce terror in fans who see horror in water. There was actually a few shots where I literally thought to myself "shit" because of how good it looked - so props have to be given to Maxime Alexandre who worked cinematography on the film. Atmosphere aside, there's other great things to see besides the feeling of dread, including the alligators themselves and the surprising amount of gore in the movie! While the film isn't by any means loaded with gore, for a Hollywood horror, there's a good share of monster-on-human violence and gore, believe it or not! Nature's most violent predators obviously don't hold back, and neither do the ones in this film: they take massive bites, they throw people around and they shred. If you're a fan of disaster movies where things get ugly, Crawl's definitely got something for ya.
There's really not a whole lot not to like about the film - it's got a great basis for a plot that flows really well, and besides a few perfectly timed coincidences - such as going out into the middle of the flood just as the eye of the storm is directly above them - the plot isn't that out of the realm of reality. Besides the fact that many houses in Florida don't have basements, it doesn't seem completely out of the question that in the midst of a category 5 hurricane where your house is flooding, that alligators could make their way into your home. Maybe not as tremendous or as vicious as the ones in Crawl, but dangerous nonetheless! And the film is done really well with some seriously amazing acting by both Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper who show some really incredible strength and emotion throughout the whole movie. If facial expressions could talk, the faces on these two would be screaming.
Crawl honestly blew me away - so I've gotta say that you've gotta give this one a run through! If you've even the slightest fan of monster and disaster movies, Crawl will absolutely satisfy you. Check it out!!!