Sometimes only a small, modest film is needed, but sometimes we get a perfect one, in its accuracy and intentions, to remind us that the new wave of "author" terror is great and is revitalizing the genre and opening new expressive and thematic avenues. But sometimes, good horror movies are intense nightmares of an hour and a half with two people and a dog caught with a few crocodiles in a flooded house.
'Crawl' recovers the best Alexandre Aja. Despite the thematic similarity with the fun but at times exhausting 'Piranha 3D', another adventure with predators underwater, here Aja ignores the self-conscious humor and focuses on a claustrophobic odyssey that, in reality, what he approaches is another oppressive production of Sam Raimi, the superb 'Do Not Breathe'.
Aja achieves, thanks to a methodical polishing of elements of the script by brothers Michael and Shawn Rasmussen to turn 'Crawl' into a modest series prodigy B. Aja rolls with a verve under which not even a leftover plane is allowed, sometimes demonstrating a narrative economy that he had not practiced for literally over a decade. Some good examples are the superb initial, melancholic and informative credits, or the sequence of the gas station attack.
'Crawl' is pure concept horror cinema, and that is why it demands so much to its staging, but it more than compensates when it comes to fruition: a frustrated competition swimmer (Kaya Scodelario) that has been distanced from her father (Barry Pepper) goes to see if he is well in an area of Florida where a devastating storm is going to be triggered. Together they will not only have to face the meteorological apocalypse refugees in their own house, which is collapsing but a group of crocodiles that are loose.
It is difficult not to slightly twist the nose when a proposal of unchained sea creatures is thrown at us. Although the first success of the genre in its modern incarnation, 'Shark', is a classic, the homicidal aquatic fauna has been overcrowded for decades, and each new film guarantees either tireless harmless self-parody of the 'Sharknado', or tireless repetition of topics with more or less fortune.
Aja reduces to a single-stage the capacity of movement of its characters, and reveals himself claustrophobic at startup (a father badly wounded in a basement that is flooded) and surprisingly versatile in the second half of the film, when the house is transformed literally under the feet of the protagonists to the passage of the flood. The script is built around set-pieces very valuable and extraordinarily well rolled.
All this could give rise to an excellent summer tension film, but Aja manages to raise it even further thanks to his attention to elements that the genre often neglects. For example, Aja's faith in the highly physical interpretation of Scodelario, a very young but already veteran actress that works like a hero of action closer to the muscle and presence of the icons of the eighties than to the current CGI excesses.
All this, added to a systematic deviation to the plot topics, almost with a tone of defiance, sets up one of the most stimulating proposals of this final stretch of the summer.