When she can’t get in touch with her divorced, estranged father, Dave (Barry Pepper), as a massive hurricane batters Florida, college swimming champ (pay attention, that’ll prove important!) Haley (Kaya Scodelario) ignores evacuation broadcasts and drives into the storm to find him.

Arriving back at the old family home, she finds his car and his mobile phone but no sign of dad. Investigating, she discovers him unconscious and badly injured, bleeding from several vicious bite wounds, in the rapidly flooding crawlspace beneath their house. And he’s not alone, a whole family of alligators having made their home in the basement trap Haley and her dad, cutting off their only means of escape. With the floodwaters rising and the ‘gators hunting them through the basement, Haley finds herself in a desperate race against time to save herself and her father…

Crawl is stupid! Actually, no, Crawl is STOOPID! Come on! The basic premise is alligators invade your house and try to eat you in the middle of a hurricane. That’s it! And that’s also what’s so good about it! In a Summer movie season of bloated superhero movies and lumbering monster movies, Alexandre Aja has done what he does best by delivering a lean, pared-to-the-bone crowd pleaser precision-tooled to make you jump and wince and squeal with delight and fear, dragging you to the edge of your seat and keeping you there for almost the entirety of it’s 87 minutes.

It’s not subtle but it’s damn effective, upping the tension by keeping the CGI to a minimum and offering us only murky glimpses of the beasts, while inventively supplying a buffet of luckless looters and ill-fated cops that serves to keep Haley, her dad and their dog Sugar (the film’s true star) from getting chomped too soon. Skins star Scodelario is good as the athletic and vulnerable Haley, forced to dig deep to survive, while Barry Pepper is reliable and grizzled as the partially chomped dad, Aja finding ways to make you care almost as much about the repair of their fractured relationship as you do about the marauding ‘gators with a taste for swim team.

Dumb, bloody and almost unbearably thrilling, Crawl may yet redeem a season of lacklustre Summer Blockbusters. And the song over the closing credits may just be the nervous relief you need!

Movie Review: Crawl
4.0Overall Score
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