Crawl (3 stars)

Crawl

Kaya Scodelario impresses in this snappy creature feature from Alexandre Aja

'How do I keep my family safe?' asks a radio host as a category five hurricane hits the Florida town where Haley (The Maze Runner's Kaya Scodelario) is desperately searching for her father Dave (Barry Pepper), who has failed to pick up his phone for hours. She eventually locates him in the basement of his house and it's there where most of the action unfolds in this snappy creature feature directed by Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3D).

In a similar way to Blake Lively's Nancy in Jaume Collet-Serra's shark flick The Shallows, Haley is faced with escalating danger as hungry 'gators circle and Scodelario rises to the challenge with an impressive physical performance. A claustrophobic shower scene featuring Haley and one of the beasts is a thrilling high point. Aja keeps raising the stakes, using misdirection to increase suspense and deliver impactful jump scares; it's eerily effective for the most part, with the sound designers cranking up the audio to make the CG creatures slithering scales chillingly menacing.

With just two main players and a family dog called Sugar stuck in a confined space where the water level is rising, the body count and gore are provided by characters who happen to float by. In a satisfyingly taut gas station scene, which sees looters making the most of a bad situation, Aja guides his camera through the aisles and uses reflective surfaces for inventive kills.

The director focuses on keeping things tense throughout a brisk running time of 87-minutes, with references to Jaws, Jurassic Park and even Apocalypse Now adding levity for cineastes. The ecological terror acts as a metaphor for Haley's stormy post-divorce relationship with her father. With the pair forced to work together while wading through treacherous waters, Crawl asks, will their once-supportive relationship endure? Cheesy dialogue apart, the result is surprisingly touching.

General release from Fri 23 Aug.

Crawl

  • 3 stars
  • 2019
  • US / France / Serbia
  • 15
  • Directed by: Alexandre Aja
  • Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper
  • UK release: 23 August 2019

When a category 5 hurricane hits a Florida town, Haley (Scodelario) searches desperately for her father, Dave (Pepper), finding him in the basement of his house with alligators circling. It’s a surprisingly touching and effective creature feature, and Scodelario rises to the challenge with an impressive physical…

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