Crawl (2019) Movie Review

Crawl is a 2019 American disaster survival horror film directed by Alexandre Aja and written by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen. It stars Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper as a daughter and father, who along with their dog are hunted by alligators after becoming trapped in their home during a Category 5 hurricane. The film was announced in May 2018, with Sam Raimi producing through his Ghost House Pictures banner, and Aja attached as director. Scodelario and Pepper joined the cast in July 2018, with other actors being added later that summer. Principal photography began in August 2018 and wrapped in September 2018. The film was theatrically released in the United States on July 12, 2019, by Paramount Pictures. It has grossed $88.8 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews, with critics praising the performances (particularly Scodelario) and called it “satisfying and a lot of fun.”


Aspiring University of Florida swimmer Haley Keller receives a call from her sister, Beth who informs her that a Category 5 hurricane is on a collision course with Florida and advises her to get out of the state. Haley is concerned for the safety of her father Dave, as he is not answering his phone. Against the instructions of Florida State Police, Haley drives around evacuation routes to check in on Dave. She first goes to his condo, where he has been living since he and her mother divorced. Haley finds the family dog Sugar at the condo but not Dave himself and is worried that he has returned to the family home in Coral Lake, which he supposedly sold years ago.

Haley and Sugar navigate the flooded streets and find Dave’s truck at the Coral Lake house. There, she descends into the crawl space underneath the house while leaving Sugar upstairs, and eventually finds her father unconscious and wounded. When she tries to drag him out, her exit is cut off by large and ravenous alligators that Dave believes got into the house via a storm drain open to the crawl space. The alligators are too large to fit around the pipes under the house, allowing Haley and Dave a safe area at the far end of the crawl space. However, the hurricane intensifies and the crawl space begins to flood, so Haley attempts to navigate around the alligators before she and her father drown.

While attempting to escape the crawl space and fending off the alligators, Haley drops her phone (which gets crushed by an alligator) and discovers that the secondary exit to the crawl space is blocked by a box on top of the hatch. She tries to contact a group of looters in a gas station opposite the house for help, but they get killed by alligators. She is also helpless to stop the alligators from attacking and killing two police officers who investigate the house for survivors. Dave manages to kill an alligator by splitting its head open with a shovel, but gets trapped. In a last-ditch effort to escape, Haley makes her way to the storm drain, where she discovers that the alligators have made their nest and laid eggs. Haley successfully kills the other alligator using a gun retrieved from the body of one of the police officers, shooting down the alligator’s throat when it nearly bites her hand off and makes it upstairs, crow-barring the living room floor open and saving Dave from drowning in the basement.

Free of the crawl space, Haley, Dave and Sugar procure the looters’ boat just as the eye of the hurricane moves over the neighborhood. However, the floodwaters break the nearby levees, flooding Coral Lake even more and crashing them back into the house, where they get separated. While Dave and Sugar make their way up the stairs, Haley navigates around the kitchen and uses a discarded police radio to broadcast a distress signal to authorities.

After retrieving a set of road flares and saving Sugar from being attacked, Dave loses an arm to one of the alligators, Haley attempts to flag down a rescue helicopter from an upstairs bedroom but is attacked by another alligator, which attempts to drown her in a death roll. While Dave and Sugar escape to the attic, Haley stabs the alligator in the eye with a flare and attempts to swim to the roof from the outside of the house, narrowly avoiding being mauled by a fourth alligator before it gets swept away. Haley lights a flare and flags down the rescue helicopter as Dave and Sugar watch.

My Personal Thoughts

The brilliant transition happens in the movie from you getting scared with the lead characters, to get scared for them. That’s what a disaster movie should do, and Crawl portrays it with all the suspense. There are enough thrills that will not just keep you on the edge of your seats, but also give many ‘no no no’ moments.

I wish the makers could’ve cleverly used the dog to create more tension. The unilluminated production design helps to evoke the required fear. Thanks to the writers for bringing in natural causes to bring in the jitters, was really bored with supernatural beings. From disaster to horror to slasher, the script touches many aspects in order to retain that intrigue. Also, the angle of exploring things between father-daughter amidst the disaster moulded very well for me.

Kaya Scoledario delivers a remarkable performance as Haley. She knows how to emote every expression very well. Especially, when the camera zooms to her face and she’s scared, you get scared for her. She also performs the underwater, athletic scenes effortlessly.

Barry Pepper provides outstanding support to Kaya. He has worked with her in Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, but back then no one thought they can be paired up for such a wonderful father-daughter. Apart from these 2, there are just decent CGI-made alligators having much screen presence in the film.

Alexandre Aja, with pretty much experience in this genre, brings a fresh concept on-board. This could easily turn out to be this year’s Don’t Breathe. Alexandre shows, how when you get home don’t spook it with supernatural beings, chaotic background score and try to do something logical. Maxime Alexandre’s camera covers almost everything that should’ve been used to bring out the screams.

Max Aruj and Steffen Thum bring out the best from the silence. Thank god they didn’t choose the typical loud Hollywood’s way of designing the sounds in a horror film. The sounds blend in well with the narrative, helping it to create the required tension.

Throughout the film, it never ‘tries’ to scare you, everything just comes naturally and that’s where the film stands out. Here were many areas untouched as far as the script goes, could’ve been turned into a classic!

Only if you’re someone who can’t watch horror flicks, then it’ll come naturally to you!All said and done, this is the kind of horror movie we deserve!

A proper amalgamation of thrills and story, resulting in an exhilarating watching experience. If you can digest it, go for it!

I will rate this Movie 7/10

Directed byAlexandre Aja
Produced by Craig J. Flores Sam Raimi Alexandre Aja
Written by Michael Rasmussen Shawn Rasmussen
Starring Kaya Scodelario Barry Pepper
Music by Max Aruj Steffen Thum
CinematographyMaxime Alexandre
Edited byElliot Greenberg
Ghost House Pictures Raimi Productions
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date July 12, 2019
Running time87 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$13.5 million
Box office$88.8 million

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