The Subtle Horror of “Crawl”

I really liked “Crawl” due to its fresh feeling in a sea (or lake) of unoriginal horror movies and shows. I’m looking at you, Stranger Things.

It All Makes Sense!

From the beginning “Crawl” made sense in terms of how the story is told. Haley (played by Kaya Scodelario) is able to swim away effectively due to her background as a swimmer. She and her father, Dave (played by Barry Pepper), are knowledgeable on alligators due to their life in Florida. The characters don’t feel like helpless strangers that manage to haphazardly get away from some very aggressive alligators. The movie was surprisingly sensical and aware of the limits/capabilities of the characters, but I did find myself thinking that it was still kind of unrealistic.

Nobody Saw That Coming

The absolute best part of the movie is the expectations it brings and its ability to throw them to the wayside to scare the audience even more. The film was packed with stand out moments that packed strong scares:

  • The reveal of the second alligator
  • The gas station scene
  • The dog swimming in the hallway
Paramount Pictures

Although expectable, the reveal of the second alligator caught me off guard because of the build-up. The movie uses the usual cues to sway the audience into thinking the first alligator will come out but then it goes still. Haley turning slowly mixed with the lightning flash shocks the audience and lets them know that the situation is getting dire.

The first flash of hope for the pair comes in the form of looters stealing from a nearby gas station. The irony of bad people being a possible savior makes for a bittersweet feeling. While the audience may want Haley and Dave to escape, it is conflicting for them to possibly be saved by the looters. The sequence in which the looters are taken out is positively gruesome and unsympathetic which gives the audience relief but also despair sine our protagonists are still trapped.

My favorite scene in which “Crawl” really builds tension well comes in the final act when Haley, Dave and their dog have to get to the roof of the old house. The innocent and helpful dog has to swim to Dave as alligators fill the house and the sound design pushes the viewer into believing that dog isn’t going to make it. Right as the sound dies down and the audience sighs in relief–SNAP–an alligator grabs onto Dave. The ebb and flow of tension kept the movie interesting and entertaining.

“Crawl” was released July 12 of 2019 and while it wasn’t the best horror film of the year (check out my post on Us) it was impressive and fun. Check out its trailer here.

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