Crawl floods its claustrophobic gator-infested environment with sheer stupidity. Like the rest of you, I enjoy a decent B-movie that knows when to fully exercise its ridiculous premise. Last year's 'The Meg', whilst not fully embellishing its 'Jaws' escapade, was a prime example of being mildly amusing and self-aware. Aja's alligator plagued hurricane unfortunately plays out with an all too serious tone that prevents the full "creature feature" from emerging. A daughter ignores all hurricane warnings to drive back to her father's house, who isn't answering her phone calls, and find themselves trapped in a flooding crawlspace that is swamped with hungry alligators.
Right, let's address the alligator in the flooded street. Yes, the wild alligator is no where near as predatory or territorial as the ones displayed here. Hollywood adores exaggerating fauna in order to induce new fears into the minds of the mainstream. Atleast sharks aren't whirling around in a tornado or tarantulas aren't spewing lava everywhere, so credit must be given for some plausibility I guess. Now, my biggest gripe with Crawl is not with the ravenous wildlife and blustery weather, but actually the stupidity of its characters and absurd plot conveniences (you know how much I "love" conveniences).
Immediately, Hayley drives to her father's house in spite of the entire town being evacuated due to the approaching stage five hurricane. Y'know, Katrina levels of ferocity. Strike one. Next, the rain. They use it to traverse the treacherous waters, providing a fitting distraction for the gators. It's been raining for the entire film. The moment they need it to downpour, it stops. For a minute. Really? Strike two! The alligators have a numerous number of chomps at the father and daughter, like hungry hippos. Thrown around like rag dolls and still able to Tarzan their way through the crawlspace. Other civilians though? One bite and they are doomed. Strike three! Out swimming three gators swarming in from different directions. Access to a gun. Helicopter at the precise moment. Heavy object blocking an alternate exit. Strike four, five, six and seven. Heck, you're outta here!
Seriously, there are so many conveniences that the alligators didn't stand a chance at getting some delicious Scodelario meat. And unfortunately does reduce much of the tension that Aja actually lovingly produced. There are moments, particularly when our characters are confined to the claustrophobic restrictions of the crawlspace, where Aja fully utilised the surroundings to create tension. Accompanied by a physically demanding performance from Scodelario and an intricately developed dynamic between her and Pepper, the excitement was constantly flowing throughout the tight hour and a half runtime.
Literally every minute is used to its full potential, making for an engaging thriller that has enough bite to thrill many. Just a shame that the excessively obvious CGI beasts, narrative stupidity and plethora of plot conveniences prevent Crawl from being the creature feature that it deserves to be.