Between natural disasters, fearsome alligators, incredible tension, and a surprisingly decent body count, Crawl manages to deliver on a fun monster movie you should check out on blu-ray. Come inside for our full review!
There are few movies I love more than a good disaster flick, and a good monster movie. Crawl manages to combine BOTH of these into a single film, almost as if it were made specifically with me in mind…
The story is fairly simple; Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a college student-athlete gets a call from her sister, concerned about the gigantic hurricane heading towards their Florida hometown. Neither of them are able to get in contact with their father (played by Barry Pepper) and with the massive storm looming, along with evacuations ordered, concern is growing. Defying all warning signs (literally) Haley goes to search him out, eventually bringing her to their childhood home.
When Haley finds her dad seriously injured in the crawl space (hence the film’s title), she quickly discovers the hurricane is the least of her immediate concerns. Massive alligators have nested in the same crawlspace, leaving the pair trapped under the house even as the flood waters from the weather beings to rise. Between the serious injuries and risk of drowning, Haley must find a way around the deadly creatures and find help…
One of the things I enjoyed most about the movie was how quickly it gets to the meat of the story. It wastes very little time getting into the action. I mean, we’re facing down our first butt-clenching alligator encounter within MINUTES of the film starting. In very short order, Crawl manages to suck you into the action/thrills and refuses to let you go until the credits roll.
The tension in the film is kept consistently high throughout, rarely giving you a chance to take an easy breath (much like the characters on screen). Just as things seem to be working in their favor, things take a dramatic turn and the danger is cranked up another notch. Being able to keep this level of intensity during the film’s duration is no easy feat, but Alexandre Aja manages to do it almost effortlessly.
What’s not handled so well are the other elements of the story. The character interactions between Haley and her dad feel incredibly forced for the most part and, at best, come off as flat. The sub-plot related to Haley’s anger over her parents’ divorce and how it’s affecting her swim career seems out of place any time it’s brought up. While these parts are meant to form the emotional core of the movie, giving us a reason to root for the characters, they manage to be the weakest elements.
Fortunately, these moments are relatively few, and the action with the rising waters and alligators is most prominent. While it holds the overall film back a bit, it makes for excellent schlokey, B-movie goodness that I couldn’t get enough of. The gators themselves look impressive, the action manages to be intense and continually one-ups itself while still managing to be (mostly) believable. Crawl is a white-knuckle thrill ride of a monster movie and left me wanting more.
Sight and Sound
Visually speaking, Crawl sticks to a fairly basic color palette/style that keeps things realistic, while highlighting the darker tones from bad weather. Even so, the blu-ray transfer manages to highlight every detail and ensure the action stands out. The blacks are sufficiently deep and didn’t crush, meaning that even when sequences were really dark (almost all of it takes place in a dimly lit crawl space under a house after all) the details never diminished.
The overall result is a crisp image that allows you to enjoy all the gnarly action as it unfolds. The sound design is similarly impressive in the transfer. The surround sound immerses you in the heart of the hurricane, and lets you feel every creak and groan of the old house they are under. None of the action overpowers the dialog, however, and priority is well handled. From a technical standpoint, the Crawl blu-ray does everything right.
The Bonus Features
Crawl on blu-ray comes with a DVD disc, a digital copy insert, and these special features included on the main disc:
Intro to Alternate Opening
Deleted and Extended Scenes
Category 5 Gators: The VFX of Crawl
The alternate opening is given to us in motion comic form (which is kind of a neat way to do it). It’s a fun additional action sequence, but makes a lot of sense why it ultimately wasn’t used. The same can be said for the deleted scenes which only bring more character moments that don’t feel natural.
“Beneath Crawl” is the heftiest featurette on the disc, coming in at nearly 30 minutes. It’s a pretty standard making of feature, offering a look behind the scenes at various stages of the production. All in all, the bonus features are surprisingly meaty for a creature feature, adding some solid “bang for your buck” even if you likely won’t come back to them often.