Review: Crawl (2019)
Gatorade for the massesSPOILER ALERT!
The Geets (Greats):
The main protagonist gives a surprisingly good performance as Haley, who is struggling to cope with competitive Swimming. This is tested in a more primitive situation of 'kill-or-be-killed' where the film does a great job at blurring the lines in defining the 'apex predator'. It brings into context the 'fight or flight' response and how human beings are capable of over-performing in situations where their lives are in danger. The movie isolates this trait of humans by creating a sense of helplessness from emergency services and other locals, which further propels the protagonist to utilise her teachings to survive.
This movie perfectly captures the relationship between humans, animals and nature. There is an on-going debate whether human beings are higher up in the natural hierarchy than animals or both are similar. This movie blurs this hierarchy suggesting that humans are capable of adapting to changing environments. However, more relevant to the plot, Haley's career and her Father's relentless push to make her carry out this career has purpose in a more primitive sense. Sometimes the things we learnt in the past which we devalued may actually be useful to u in the future.
Haley's relationship to her Dad is also interesting and keeps the viewer 'hooked' as their relationship develops from distancing to emotional acceptability. The Daughter is angry at the Dad for forcing her into competitive Swimming from an early age and her subsequent failure to live up to this performance. It is only when this skill is put to the test in a survival situation that their re-connection blossoms with effectiveness.
Despite the CGI the Alligators seemed authentic and it didn't seem 'fake'. In fact, the environment (Water, weather etc) helped create the sense of nature taking over the urban setting. The rise of the water from the crawl space until the roof of the house was excellently one to showcase this.
The movie did a good job maintaining the tension from the start to the finish, which is rare for a movie of its sub-genre. The gradually worsening flooding and hurricane is excellently captured as is the 'osmotic gradient' created by these climatic events on the surrounding reptilian life.
The film-makers and the main protagonists make excellent use of space. Most movies seem 'dried up' by constantly changing sets with poor use of each set. This movie delivers in this sense as all levels of the house is utilised making it feel as if the movie explores more than just character development and the natural environment. The house feels like an 'environment' on its own, like an enclosed stage. The actors feel the urge to escape from it but ultimately always end up back there.
The Phads (Bads):
This movie could have done with less minor characters. It seemed like all of their fates were sealed at the hands of a new 'natural order' which is being established in the urban setting. These minor characters felt misplaced in a movie which could rather focus more on the natural events unfolding and the interactions between the 2 protagonists.
It seemed quite unrealistic how the Father survived the Alligator attack in the crawl space and survived. At the same time, it seems un-animalistic for the Alligator to not find a way to get to its prey more aggressively. Perhaps the movie would have more emotional investment from the main protagonist if she found her Father dead in the crawl space and the audience can watch the story unfold from there with the underlying theme of what lengths humans would go to survive despite major drawbacks.
Aja continues to showcase his talents on a different aspect of the Horror genre. Despite this movie over-achieving within the 'creature-feature' sub genre, it will sadly be masked by Horror movies which appeal to the masses.