Cinematic Releases: Gator Raid: Crawl (2019) - Reviewed

I lived in Florida for eight or so years when I was younger, and recall living through two hurricanes during my time there. One of them, Ivan, was absolutely devastating to my area and took out a vital bridge that connected Milton, the town my home was in, and Pensacola, the city my school was in. After the hurricane and up until we moved back up to Ohio, it would take us at least 45 minutes to take the long way home afterwards, and once the temporary bridge was constructed to hold until the permanent one was completed, well over an hour (up to two on Fridays). Hurricanes are terrifying and destructively catastrophic events that will change your life forever, whether you expect it to or not. If not properly prepared, you could lose your entire house and all your belongings. Crawl, the latest chiller from Alexandre Aja and produced by Sam Raimi, takes several questionable liberties on just how prepared Floridians would really be in the face of a massively destructive meteorological event; but I'd be lying to your face if I didn't say that it's probably the most intense cinematic experience I've had this year.

Crawl is going to do to Florida tourism what Jaws did to beach vacations in 1975 and what Psycho did to hotel showers. It's the exact nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat thriller that I was expecting it to be and so much more. It takes the confined spaces of Don't Breathe and minimizes the location, trapping its characters in a one-room predicament, slowly raising the stakes through a steadily rising flood (don't even get me started on why you won't find any basements in Florida). There's even a surprisingly ample bit of character development put in for an 87 minute film- a story this short normally doesn't spend too much time on a backstory for anyone before throwing them right into the meat of the plot. Instead, enough (but only just enough) introduction is given to the two protagonists through brief exposition that doesn't hang around for too long, giving enough of a push to their plight that makes it all that more palpable.

I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that this was the single most intense cinematic experience I've had this year. I jumped out of my seat more than once, and found my nerves fried to their ends, something that I find incredibly difficult to experience in any kind of thriller. In an age filled with predictable and formulaic writing, it's refreshing to see another bright piece of originality shine through the cracks like this. I just fear that it'll get lost under the other big releases this weekend- with a slew of Disney films taking the box office by storm already, people will probably be more likely to choose the safer route of familiarity. The trailers simply don't do Crawl any kind of justice, which is sadly almost always the case with marketing films nowadays. If you loved Don't Breathe, you'll probably dig Crawl too- and yes, there's a good reason for its title. It's a shockingly fantastic rush of adrenaline that I can't wait to watch all over again.

-Wes Ball