“Creature features” as they are sometimes called, can be loads of fun, even the B-movie types. I will usually be open to watching any sort of movie featuring creatures over the years: Jaws, Tremors, Lake Placid, Predator and stories of that nature fit the bill. So of course a movie about gators during a hurricane (very, very different from sharks in a tornado) produced by noted horror icon Sam Raimi is going to catch my attention. We had missed our opportunity to see this on the big screen but spending so much time at home during this pandemic has allowed us to get a little caught up on our movie watching on our own little big screen.
Just because a movie is being classified as a B-movie does not mean it will automatically be bad. There are indeed some good qualities here. I liked the idea and thought it was different from others in the genre and not as outlandish. The story about a father and daughter being stranded during a hurricane while avoiding alligators is fairly believable so that helped pull me into it a little more than others. The cinematography is another key element when trying to do a horror-esqe creature feature. I really enjoyed most of the camera work throughout. There are some nice angles to set up some cool shots and action sequences along the way. There are not many characters to choose from when judging the acting. The two main characters Haley (Kaya Scodelario) and Dave (Barry Pepper) wouldn’t win any awards but they do a fine job in their performances. The set design, while not grand in scale, is another complimenting strength here. The house and surrounding neighborhood look great as the water rises and helps try to create a more tense atmosphere that a semi-horror creature story needs. Of course you cannot have a story about creatures and have lackluster creatures, so I was impressed by the gators themselves who look great in and out of water.
Crawl definitely does not escape unscathed from criticism upon viewing. I was let down by how not scary the film was. I understand that it is not a full blown horror movie but I expected to be at least startled a couple of times or have more “edge of my seat” moments from a Sam Raimi produced flick. The story, while based somewhat in reality, just didn’t offer enough suspense or twists/turns to really have us hooked. The dialogue is pretty cookie cutter basic and underwhelming. This movie felt too long even though it was only 87 minutes long. This is normally right around that sweet spot (90 minutes) for run time. They tried to create suspense by dragging out each scene but it ended up crawling (ha) too slowly and did not pack the punch needed for the genre. If you have minimally suspenseful scenes leading up to minimally scary moments, it does not add up to a high quality creepy creature film.
It is not often that fans and critics can agree on film ratings except for no doubt, slam dunk great films or absolutely terrible ones. The ones that live in that middle area can sometimes be very polarizing where one group scores it much differently. However, Crawl is not one of those polarizing films. You could pick better films to watch, but you could easily pick much worse films. Crawl thrashes its way to 4 Apologies and that’s okay for an afternoon/evening film escape from the world.