I am always inspired by tenacious characters thrust into situations where every intellectual, emotional and physical resource must be used to overcome a dangerous foe. Remember how courageously Jane Levy fought in Don't Breathe or Michael Vartan in Rogue?
Aptly directed by Alexandre Aja, Crawl observes family tension as a pipeline to the main drama. Haley (Kaya Scodelario) has long taken pride in excelling at sports, namely swimming. Her father Dave (Barry Pepper) once doted on her but they have fallen out of touch. Circumstances soon bring them together during a hurricane which floods the town and the old house. She soon finds her father alive but horribly injured in the basement. Meanwhile, the presence of hungry alligators which have gained access via a drain pipe leads to a high anxiety fight for survival.
Front and center in my list of concerns was that nothing happen to the family dog, Sugar. I have two dogs, so the worry was palpable. Plus a new phenomenon occurred, a first for me: Crawl made me lean forward, ignoring all bladder warnings and brace on the edge of my seat for the duration.
Admirably, exposition and sentimentality were reduced to the briefest exchange. Top marks to editor Elliot Greenberg whose seamless job made me forget about the cuts and concentrate on where an alligator might strike next. Like his masterful work on Escape Plan, there's a snug buildup, numerous set-pieces, endless variety and injury details that will make you squirm right down to your toenails.
Critically, Crawl vindicates Barry Pepper. Awarded the Worst Supporting Actor Razzie for Battlefield Earth, he deserves a "Redeemer" prize due to his compelling, well-defined and sympathetic portrayal. Undeniably, Kaya Scodelario packs determination, desperation, relief, gut instinct and more into the part of Haley. She's a fine actress who can lead our minds and guide our spirits even when matters prove impossible. Also, she makes those hysterical sisters in 47 Meters Down appear less than resourceful.
I suspect even the nerve jiggling sound effects will be ignored by the ever politically correct Oscars. There are no politics in Crawl, only a father/daughter survival story high on excitement and low on pretense.
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “R” for bloody creature violence and brief language.)