CRAWL Death Rolls My Phobias

Dorothy, my Florida friend, and I went to see CRAWL and I didn't tell her about my irrational fear of alligators. I'm not sure if it's their beady eyes, their snarling snouts, or my deep-seated childhood memory of a crocodile chomping off Captain Hook's hand and then later finishing him off. I can’t tell the difference between the two tailed, long snout beasts so bear with me. Alligators are powerful, mythic beasts, and to my companion they are everyday. She tells me they were in her backyard and if referring to an obnoxious squirrel. To a West Coast boy, alligators are just not a normal thing. She probably fears earthquakes more than I do.

I knew very little about CRAWL going in, like most horror movies, other than there was a storm and alligators. I didn’t realize the two lead characters where trapped in the crawlspace under a home, next to a gator farm during a category 5 hurricane. Bells, whistles and flags all went up simultaneously.

After a brief introduction to swimmer girl, the movie gets into the storm and into the crawl space. I was impressed at how quickly it got to the point and though I didn’t feel any connection to the characters, I did immediately sense the claustrophobia and the sense of being hunted. And then came the brisk alligator action. The alligator's death rolls were so well done and I shrieked giddily. Dorothy seemed nonplussed throughout the ordeal of this movie and I sunk into my seat, fists held up and ready to punch the modern day dinosaur in the snout. I was exhausted by the end.

The plot is clever and refreshingly simple and other than a few father-daughter emotional scenes, the movie’s focus really stayed in the water. The storm effects were great and I didn’t realize that water could get up past a second floor childhood bedroom so quickly. Again, West Coast boy where our annual rainfall is like 8 inches. This was a reminder that nature is and will always be in control.

CRAWL may not be the high art, but horror fans looking for a well-made, briskly paced, tense, fun summer thrill ride couldn’t do better. There is minimal gore except for one scene that looked like teenagers attacking a pizza when the lid opens. I left completely satisfied and in no need to quibble any flaws. I do however wonder why Paramount Pictures didn't do a greater marketing push given the two big horror names behind this, director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes) and producer Sam Raimi (Evil Dead). In its second week, it has all but disappeared from theaters, and the shoebox theater it was relegated to was full in the middle of the day. Sounds like a missed opportunity.