Genuinely fun ‘Crawl’ makes for great summer movie

This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Kaya Scodelario in a scene from "Crawl." (Sergej Radović/Paramount Pictures via AP)

A good sign of any thriller/horror flick is nervous laughter, the uneasy kind that doesn’t indicate you’re in a happy place. You can expect a lot of that in “Crawl,” the concept piece that keeps you on the edge of your seat. While the overall story may be formulaic, the panache of the setting keeps it fun.

Talented swimmer, Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) finds herself in a predicament when her father (Barry Pepper) is no where to be found during an impending Category 5 hurricane. After stumbling upon her injured dad in the crawl space below their Florida home, Haley also finds deadly alligators. As the rain continues to pour, filling up the house, it becomes a fight for survival to make it out alive.

After a rocky exposition filled with unnatural dialogue, the thrills begin.

Being a concept piece with just about the entire film taking place in a house, there has to be some creativity involved to keep the film from drowning. That is where the film’s director (Alexandre Aja) strives. With a majority taking place in a single level of a home, Aja milks every possible scenario to keep the energy high. There isn’t a dull moment, thanks to a consistent delivery of new scenarios.

The excitement doesn’t end after this section though; as the water rises, so does the tension. The film continues to prove it has plenty of tricks up its sleeve even after it ditches its titular setting; alligators being able to access different parts of the house thanks to increasing water levels is such a well-thought idea, keeping the film fresh.

This is a classic B-grade horror film — it goes to show throughout. If not evident of the copious gore, the rudimentary story structure (filled with patterns that become a bit repetitious) proves this. The characters are passable enough to stay onboard with thanks to solid performances from Scodelario and Pepper to keep them grounded. On top of that, there is the dog, Sweetie, a minor character everyone will be fearful of its fate. The visual effects are not of the best quality, but the alligators and storm look just good enough to believe. All of my little quips can be overlooked, however, because the film is genuinely fun.

“Crawl” knows exactly what it is and makes the most of it. The film delivers on every promise it makes of being a creature feature. It is the perfect summer flick to take a group of friends to — you will leave the theater assured it was worthwhile, especially hearing the credits being accompanied by Bill Haley’s “See You Later Alligator,” a fine finishing touch.

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