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Arrow FrightFest 2019 Review: Crawl

When I first saw the trailer for Crawl I thought it looked like a good time. I’m always keen for more creature features and Alexandre Aja is a more than competent horror filmmaker with a few excellent flicks under his belt. However, I did not expect the scope, heart or heart-racing intensity that would come with it. Crawl is a 5-star film, welcome to my TED talk.

When a father and daughter are trapped during a hurricane, the pair must, not only battle the terrifying elements, but a bunch of alligators that swim into their home during a flash flood. Crawl explores a home invasion of the worst kind as its killers are hungry for blood and bloody quick. You can’t reason with an alligator, they don’t give a shit. All you can do is run, swim or crawl your way to safety and hope to keep all your limbs intact.

Crawl is a blast and a relentless one at that, so strap yourself in because you’re in for a roller-coaster of a ride. Aside from about 15 minutes of set-up, introducing us to Kaya Scodelario’s Haley and her rocky relationship with her father (Barry Pepper), Crawl kicks into fifth gear and doesn’t let up until the film’s final seconds. It’s 90 minutes of non-stop action, drama and nail-biting tension that I wholly wasn’t ready for, but was ecstatic to be experiencing. With Alexandre Aja at the helm, you know, the director of High TENSION, you’d think I’d have been more mentally prepared. But I wasn’t.

The film is fast-paced and furious, excellently combining genres of horror, action and heart-felt drama in one fell swoop. Haley and her father’s troubled relationship feels real and never melodramatic, intricately woven into the film’s structure to raise the stakes, but also to give us characters that we want to root for. Along with their dog Sugar – who is, admittedly, my star of the entire film, despite almost giving me multiple heart attacks – we care for them and want them to survive.


The scope and use of space is Crawl’s greatest feat. You’ll probably have the impression that the film is going to be small and claustrophobic and, for the most part, you’d be correct. The basement is already an eerie place associated with horror, but with the addition of rising water levels, a raging hurricane outside and the final terror cherry on the cake: murderous alligators, it makes for treacherous viewing.

The location may be mostly small, but Crawl branches out into something bigger and it’s extremely impressive to watch as our characters fight to survive in the most insane circumstances. Their hopes are relentlessly dashed and, all the while, poor Sugar helplessly barks and whines. To describe Crawl as anxiety-inducing is an understatement, because I’m pretty sure I held my breath for a solid 20 minutes.

Crawl is filled with jump scares and moments that are scrupulously frightening, but a surprising amount of heart that’ll only increase the stakes. It’s such good fun in the most twisted way, and I can’t wait to watch it again. Honestly, it’s a perfect creature feature and is more Alien, than Alligator, so dive in and enjoy the monstrous mayhem.


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