In “Jaws,” you were lost in the open ocean with a large great white predator circling your small boat. In “Alien,” you were trapped in the black void of space with a horrific nightmare stalking you in the corridors. Now, prepare to be trapped in the confines of a basement, that’s in Florida for some reason, with a family of alligators! Feels like a bit of a step down in terror and tension, but that’s the plot of “Crawl.”
The movie follows Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario), an athletic swimmer and student at the University of Florida. When she hears from her sister that a Category 5 hurricane is heading towards her state, Haley rushes to her hometown to search for her father, Dave Keller (Barry Pepper). She manages to find him just as the hurricane arrives, but unfortunately, he’s been injured. To make matters worse, his attacker is still nearby. Trapped with a family of hostile alligators, Haley will have to do whatever it takes to get her father and herself to safety, but she’ll have to hurry. The longer the hurricane lingers, the more water floods the basement. And if she can’t outrun one gator, how can she hope to outswim a full pack?
“Crawl” is one of the strangest films to come out this summer and a tricky one to review. It feels like a Syfy channel movie that was given a bigger budget along with a theatrical release. I want to make this clear, despite the criticism I’m about to give it, “Crawl” is not a terrible film. It gives what it promised; the effects and sets are well put together, and the characters are likable. That last one may sound like an odd thing to promote, but I’ve seen plenty of B-Movies with obnoxious and unlikeable people, so I’m glad the filmmakers took the initiative to try and make the ones in “Crawl” tolerable for the audience. I just wish they made them smart.
Have you ever seen a movie where a character does something so dumb that it made you cry out, “If I was there, I wouldn’t have done that!” Well, the film commits this cardinal sin on more than one occasion just so the plot can move forward. Maybe it’s because I’m a Florida resident who’s lived through several hurricanes, as I’m sure most of my readers have, but it’s pretty obvious this was written by someone not from around here as the “Floridian Characters” in this film don’t act like it. Because I’m fairly sure a real Floridian wouldn’t stand out in the open to call for help when there are gators loose, or work in a basement when there’s a flood warning. Or better yet, even own a basement in a state where the maximum elevation is under 400 feet.
There’s a saying when it comes to fiction: Suspension of Disbelief. It means you’re willing to open your mind to something surreal, illogical, or unrealistic for the sake of enjoyment. Kind of like believing fossilized DNA can be used to clone dinosaurs or a giant radioactive lizard can breathe fire. It’s a necessity in storytelling so that the audience can be in the right state of mind as events playout, without breaking their immersion and understanding of the narrative. As for how “Crawl” handles its Suspension of Disbelief, I believe the planets must’ve been in alignment for events to play out the way they did, given that a pack of gators attacked the one family who owns the only basement in Florida, with a daughter who’s an athletic swimmer. I’ll believe in radioactive lizards before I believe this is even possible.
“Crawl” is rated R for brief language and bloody creature violence. If I could sum up the movie in one sentence, it’s a subpar version of “Jaws.” It’s not as scary, heart-pounding, or action-packed, but it’s an okay summer film if you’re looking for something to watch on a Friday night. If the concept of being trapped by hungry alligators sounds interesting to you then go give it a watch. If not, then just let this one pass because the final score for “Crawl” is a 7 out of 10.
Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.