Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Written by: Michael Rasmussen & Shawn Rasmussen
Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Ross Anderson, Anson Boon, Jose Palma, George Sommer
The world does not have enough well-made creature features. At their best, they can tap into our most primal functions and reactions because they bear the simple man vs. animal conflict that our species has encountered since the beginning of our existence. However, when terrible they can be irreconcilable dumpster fires. Luckily, through visceral sequences and an emotional throughline, this film showcases the best of its genre.
College student, Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) attends the University of Florida and displays dedication to the sport of swimming. With a Category 5 hurricane on its way, Haley’s sister calls her out of concern for their father, who has not been responsive and lives near the storm’s range of impact. Haley makes her way past the evacuation officers into her hometown and finds her father injured and unconscious only to find out that large and hungry alligators have found their way into the crawl space of the quickly flooding house.
Florida is one of those states that possess many attributes that make it a lovely residential location, but also some of the worst, which includes hurricanes. If a hurricane plans to strike the United States, it feels like Florida will be impacted in some way. Then add alligators, which have incredible power and are fierce predators. This film combines those two horrible detractors to put together a story against moving to Florida, I suppose. While I jest about the last sentence, I must say that this film has a great title. Not only do the alligators get access to Haley’s house through the crawl space, but the location also requires crawling around for safety. Get it? Not sure why I found it so amusing but here we are.
The effectiveness of this film relies on the audience believing the danger these alligators present to Haley and her father. With them obviously using special effects to create the alligators, the film utilizes a dark color palette to hide any dodgy CGI proper sunlight would reveal. Considering it all came together with a reported $13.5 million production budget, it looks incredible. The alligators appear menacing and Crawl brutally displays it by the number of casualties. They may not be the quickest on land but are ruthlessly quick swimmers. By being a threat both on land and in the water, these alligators present a bigger threat than sharks.
The film has plenty of tension, especially when adding the hurricane element because all of the water mixed with the destruction creates a murky and unclear environment for the alligators to prey. The water feels dirty and every time one of the characters utilizes it to get around, I found myself almost smelling the odor that would produce. Everything feels gross, which only made every injury worse because surely the environment would lead to some terrible infections. Just things I think about during a film like this.
The emotional core of the film comes from Haley’s relationship with her father. Through utilizing flashbacks to provide backstory, it demonstrates how strenuous their interactions have been, especially with Haley’s swimming aspirations. The unfortunate situation they are trapped in gives them the opportunity to have discussions they have been putting off for far too long. Trying to escape a group of hungry alligators could definitely have anyone involved contemplating final words to their loved ones. Despite that, the film has a strong survival quality to it, where Haley would always persevere and her natural instincts kicked in to fight off these predators. The action and the escapes are riveting and provide the thrills that anyone heading into this movie would expect.
Overall, it’s a tight and direct 87-minute thriller that tells the story it seeks to share. Very effective and incredibly enthralling with the way it utilizes the claustrophobic space of the house and with water not being a proper ally. It provided us with another fun creature feature and shows that perhaps we should all be a bit more scared of alligators, hurricanes, and Florida in general.