I saw the new Crawl, which spends about 90 minutes detailing a town bracing for and dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane that reaches landfall, just after I’d spent about the same amount of time watching CNN’s coverage of Hurricane Barry approaching southern Louisiana.
Having torn myself away from the television to make a Saturday matinee, I transitioned from dumbfounded at that coincidence, to shock, to outright popcorn terror as Crawl sauntered along.
What’s “popcorn terror,” you ask? That’s my term for the kind of edge-of-your-seat, fun kind of fright that the best of movies can bring, when you know that no matter what, a film’s protagonist is going to make it out alive and that everything, in the end, is going to be ok.
Or do you?
Think of Alien. I could never have called Ripley making it out of there. Jurassic Park? I thought John Hammond was going to bite it…or more accurately, get bitten.
Walking into Crawl, I knew only that people were going to be terrorized by a rampaging alligator. I soon realized I didn’t know the half.
Crawl isn’t just the Jaws knock-off I thought it would be. I’m slightly claustrophobic, and that condition made watching long segments of the movie quite uncomfortable. The film includes plenty of the requisite jumps and jolts that you want and expect out of a movie like this, and its fair share of horrific…um, feedings. The carnage in one of those scenes actually prompted a chuckle along with my “wow”…and I’ll never look at snacks at the corner gas station the same way again.
As it turns out, Crawl owes almost as much to the Alien franchise as it does to Jaws, and it even has a little Titanic thrown in for good measure.
“I’ll never let go, Jack! I’ll never let go!” Sistah, you’d better let go and find a way the hell outta there!
My only real complaint about Crawl was the heavy-handed introduction of several characters’ backstories. Once I saw the lizard and witnessed what he could and would do, I couldn’t have given a rat’s ass about Mommy’s and Daddy’s divorce.
Show me the beast! And Crawl does that, many times over. And he’s an impressive monster, a celluloid cocktail of CGI, practical effects, and live action alligator footage.
Returning home from the theatre, I returned to CNN, hoping for an update on the devastation on Barry. I learned that Barry was pretty much a bust, having been downgraded to a tropic storm.
Not so with Crawl. It the movie were a hurricane, I’d call it a Jurassic Park-worthy Category 4. Not the scariest thing I’ve ever seen onscreen, by a long shot, but more than enough to keep me from talking a dip in the swimming pool after the sun goes down tonight…let alone a swim at Discovery Park in Sacramento.
Crawl is playing…feeding…everywhere.