By Laurie Coker
Recently, the Birding Center in South Padre Island, Texas brought alligators to the Island. Big Padre, a fourteen-foot-long monster, and other smaller gators now call South Padre home. Feasting on a diet of chickens, Big Padre draws in the tourists and gives life to a deadly predator. Even from behind the safety, alligators are terrifying, equal to a great white with legs – deadly on land and in water. Crawl, a father/daughter survival film, brings behemoth gators to the big screen. Director and co-writer Alexander Aja mixes up and serves audiences a hurricane soup of reptilian flesh munchers. Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper star in this fast-paced predator thriller, the kind deserving of a shudder and a chuckle.
Haley (Scodelario), worried about her brooding father, ignores common senses drives toward the family home and directly into an impending storm. She quickly finds her dad (Pepper), badly bitten and bleeding in the crawl space under the house. In truth, however, the story doesn’t matter, because the gator makes short shrift of anyone and everyone they encounter, except that, is, for Haley the record-holding swimmer and her fortunate father – oh, and a dog.
Aja’s CGI power-houses prey on thieves and rescuers alike, demonstrating the mindlessness of their free-for-all feeding frenzy – think gator-nado, leaving Haley to fend for herself and save her father. The computer-generated monsters are daunting and Aja throws in some well-placed surprise moments. In every over-the-top circumstance, Scodelario plays the super-hero role like a real-life Wonder Woman. Quality acting is hardly necessary when the role calls for pained looks and hollering. Still, Scodelario takes the role seriously. She shares the starring role, not with Pepper, but rather, with the raging weather and hungry beasts and she holds her own.
Crawl, like other crazed creature thriller, cannot match up to the likes of Jaws, but it’s fun. For some, making jokes about the film’s preposterous premise will take precedence, while others, more fanatical for the genre, will love the quick-paced, teeth-gnashing, bone-crushing shock value of it all. Riddled with clichés and holes in realism, Crawl earns a C in the grade book. Even though it warrants more laughs than screams, it’s worth at least a matinee price.