In case you weren’t aware, Alexandre Aja’s Crawl is a fun and semi-plausible tale of survival, pitting humans against nature and many hungry alligators. What makes it work? For starters, it plays upon real-life fears of natural disasters. In fact, this aspect of Crawl is almost more harrowing than the alligators everyone knows about. It seems timely too, with all the concerns about climate change/global warming and extreme weather. Ever since Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, people have had good reason to fear hurricanes and flooding. Crawl expertly plays upon these fears. Sure, it’s not as scary (or as crazy) as footage from, say, Japan’s jaw-droppingly terrifying 2011 tsunami. Still, there is plenty to fear here, as the film’s main characters, Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) and her father (Barry Pepper), struggle against rising flood waters in their basement. How are they stuck in there? The exits are guarded by some very large (and very pissed off) alligators, of course!

Honestly, the movie isn’t much more than that. Yes, it examines the relationship between Haley and her dad, but it’s really more about the action and fear elements. That’s part of what I liked about this movie. It’s like the writers (Michael and Shawn Rasmussen) knew complexity would bog the story down, and wouldn’t be a worthwhile focus. It’s also refreshing to see a survival movie where the main characters aren’t the problem. For example, even though I like The Walking Dead (and actually write for a website about it), it can sometimes get bogged down by personal conflict, and one can almost forget it’s about zombies sometimes (hey, it happens). In “Crawl,” the characters are supportive of each other 110% percent.

Is There Any Political Muck?

Let’s face it: A lot of movies coming out now are exaggeratedly politicized. When movies themselves aren’t wearing politics on their sleeves, some goofball critics out there set up a political minefield (for example, in reality, 2016’s Ghostbusters movie wasn’t nearly as political as it was made out to be, but people like their drama). The most political aspect of this movie, though, is the specter of global warming/climate change. Fortunately, no character beats us over the head preaching about it. The hurricane and flooding does what it does, and we can make of it what we will. The crazy thing is, if you’ve ever seen such a disaster firsthand, this movie will click with you a little more. I myself saw the results of flooding before. Even though I didn’t experience the worst of it, I saw a few things that were pretty scary. I could only imagine putting up with hungry alligators on top of that!

Personal photo of flooding that occurred where I live in 2018. Normally there is practically no water here! As I watched Crawl, I imagined if this had been even worse and brimming with gators!

On the brighter side, this film dispenses with much father-daughter drama, as the main characters actually get along. In fact, Haley braves the hurricane to head out to check up on him. Fortunately, though, she is not the only brave one between the two. He also has tremendous courage, and seems like a decent, normal guy overall. In fact, this is a rare film where no human character seems particularly villainous, or otherwise on the lousy side. How often does that happen? In an age of constant outrage where heroes are pitted against villains, it seems we need more stories like this one! After a while, one may grow skeptical of their ability survive everything thrown at them. However, there are some hard-to-believe, true survival tales out there, so who knows?

Alligator Swarm

Crawl could potentially make people more scared of alligators, especially when attacks indeed happen. In fact, they can be unprovoked, which challenges notions of man necessarily being the sole menace on the earth (which, let’s face it, is a constant and tiring narrative). Overall, the alligators look realistic, although there are a few moments where, honestly, you get a bit of a CG vibe. Nevertheless, like a lot of movies, most viewers will be able to look past a few effects “tells”, especially if they’re entertained. This movie should definitely be able to entertain most people, and it actually is a bit scary.

What are your thoughts on Crawl? Let us know in the comments!

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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