I’m not completely certain what the point is of a wind-up flashlight. Sure, you don’t have to worry about batteries, but, as “Crawl” displayed, you do have to wind it frequently in order to have power.
Granted, “Crawl” isn’t exactly a film off which to base any logical deductions. It’s also not a film you should see sober. Or at all.
The film focuses on Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a young swimmer for the Florida Gators. With a hurricane threatening the area, her father, Dave (Barry Pepper), has gone radio silent, which forces Haley to brave said hurricane to check on him. This is especially bothersome for her since they aren’t really getting along at the moment.
Let me go ahead and say I didn’t realize Pepper was still acting, and I definitely didn’t realize he was the dad who needs rescuing in the trailers.
When Haley finally locates her dad, it’s in their old house, one that had supposedly been sold after he and his wife divorced. It’s a thing. The film tries to throw in various stories along that line. Haley has the personality of a rock and basically gets along with no one. She and her sister are at odds. She and her dad are barely speaking, and she appears to be angry all the time.
Haley’s father was doing work in the crawl space at the non-sold house when he was caught unaware by alligators that had traveled inside through an overflow drain pipe. Not the University of Florida kind, but the real ones that can literally take a bite out of you.
This brings us to the rest of the 87-minute film: Haley and her dad trapped in an incredibly large crawl space below the house.
It’s a game of cat-and-mouse, well, gator-and-bait. Dave is injured, but he hasn’t given us fighting. Haley is disgruntled and bad-moody, but she’s remarkably adept at eluding the alligators. Even when injured, she still keeps going. She gets bitten and keeps going. The water in the space is rising, but she keeps going. No matter what happens, she keeps going.
While her father is very supportive, this is basically a tale of Haley vs. Gator(s). He has moments of helpfulness and more than a pep talk or three, but this is a story of girl vs. wild.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned, Haley has the personality of a rock. It’s an angry rock, sure, but it’s still a rock. She spends a lot of time grunting — think Kristen Stewart in “Twilight” — and winding her flashlight, which is completely useless in an emergency situation. She also makes incredibly stupid decisions, such as choosing to dial 911 from an unsafe location rather than retreating to safety.
But, perhaps, one of my greatest annoyances — and I recognize this is possibly ridiculous — was the blood that dried in water. Haley would get injured — take, for example, a head wound she suffered — and despite the fact she was constantly wet, splashed or just flat-out underwater, the blood was in dry streaks down her head. Now, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty certain blood runs in water, or so says every shark attack movie I’ve ever watched.
All of that being said, I shouldn’t be preoccupying myself with dried blood and wind-up flashlights. At least I wouldn’t have been if the movie had anything remotely engaging or interesting going on. Did I mention this is supposed to be about a girl and some gators? If that idea doesn’t elicit engagement or interest, I’m going to say there are some major issues at play.
The first one is our main character, but that’s not a deal breaker. Many movies, such as 2014’s “St. Vincent,” have far more problematic protagonists that are given enough material for a later reevaluation. None of the characters here have much to work with, and I’m not sure whether the majority of them, excluding Pepper, could have done more anyway. (As one audience member said when we were leaving the theater, the dog was the best performer.)
Rather than continuing to pile onto this one, avoid “Crawl” at all costs. There will never be an occasion or reason to see it. And, it’s also not a movie you’ll ever see on Mystery Science Theater 3000 or RiffTrax, because there’s nothing fun or funny here.