Crawl is a snappy, little B-movie that preys on people’s most primal fears and instincts when it comes to surviving against a bigger, deadlier animal. Deftly directed by Alexandre Aja, Crawl is perhaps a more general audience-friendly romp from the horror director than even his gory but giddy remake of Piranha was. It’s often less gruesome than many of Aja’s other films, relying more on building suspense rather than the bloody aftermath — although that’s not to say there aren’t several gross-out moments (this is a When Animals Attack movie after all).
The film has a remarkably simple but effective premise, a literal monster in the house scenario that sees college student Haley (a steely Kaya Scodelario), a struggling competitive swimmer — a skill established right at the outset so you know it’s going to pay off later — trapped inside a flooded house teeming with ravenous alligators. When a Category 5 hurricane strikes Florida, Haley violates the evacuation order to go check on her dad Dave (Barry Pepper), who has not been answering repeated calls and texts.