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Film / Crawl

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Crawl is a disaster Survival Thriller film directed by Alexandre Aja and starring Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper. It was released July 12, 2019.

As a category 5 hurricane sweeps over Florida, Haley Keller (Scodelario) postpones her escape to evacuate her dad Dave (Pepper) from their home. However, with the help of the family dog she finds her father, severely hurt but alive and the two are unable to get out before floodwaters trap them. Haley also discovers that while they may have been largely cut off from the outside world, they are not alone — alligators have infiltrated the house, and they have a taste for human flesh. Can father and daughter escape alive against such overwhelming odds?

This film includes examples of the following tropes:

  • An Aesop: While not directly correlated to the main conflict, if Dave had evacuated as ordered instead of staying to protect his house during the storm, neither he nor Haley would have been in the situation to begin with, saving them both a lot of trouble and injury (including Dave getting his arm ripped off.)
  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: There's a safe space beneath the house where Haley and Dave can hash out their family drama in the midst of the disaster.
  • Action Survivor: Haley and her father Dave.
  • Ankle Drag: Haley gets grabbed and dragged away by an alligator at one point.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • While Haley is able to (narrowly) escape being subject to this trope after getting both her right arm and right leg severely bitten by the alligators, Dave gets his forearm ripped clean off at the elbow.
    • The female looter gets half of her leg bitten off by an alligator, with a bone-snapping sound audible.
  • Arc Words: "Apex predator."
  • Asshole Victim: Averted with the looters who were stealing from a gas station but would have helped Haley and her dad if the alligators didn't brutally attack them all.
  • Big Brother Instinct: When Marv becomes aware of the attacking alligators he runs towards where Stan is, yelling for him to get out of the water.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Haley, Dave, and Sugar the dog survive and are rescued, but they're also wounded (with Dave losing an arm) and many people including the looters, the deputy, and several rescuers (including their family friend) either died in the hurricane or were eaten by the alligators.
  • Bloody Handprint: Haley, while looking for her father, finds a pair of handprints made in blood on a pipe near the ceiling.
  • California Doubling: Belgrade, Serbia, as an unlikely substitute for Florida. The biggest giveaway that it's not really Florida is the large, old, multistory wood-framed houses with basements: exceedingly rare in most of the state.
  • Captain Oblivious: While the viewer sees it, Marv (the first looter to hear Haley's cries for help) doesn't hear his girlfriend getting slaughtered by an alligator.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The movie opens with Haley exiting a swimming tournament at college. Haley's diving and swimming skills prove to be useful as she goes to evade the alligators.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: All five humans killed get it pretty bad, but none more so than Deputy Pete, who gets ripped apart and decapitated by four alligators simultaneously.
  • Darker and Edgier: To the Killer Gator/Croc film genre as a whole, taking its premise (one that could have been turned into a campier film by anyone else) far more seriously.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Both Dave and Haley deliver a number of snarky quips throughout the film.
    Haley: Stay here.
    Dave: I was thinking about going for a jog...
  • Death by Materialism: Three looters see a flood caused by a Category 5 hurricane as a golden opportunity to rob a store for its ATM plus food and items. They get attacked and eaten by alligators.
  • Determinator: Haley and Dave, who won't stop until they're safe. The latter even tells a story about this trait of the former, given not being able to cross a pool in one breath made her swim late at night until she could!
  • Devoured by the Horde: Deputy Pete gets torn apart by an entire swarm of alligators.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Haley's feet are clad in nothing more substantial than flip-flops when travelling to her father's house, and she doesn't take too long to discard those once in the basement (presumably for easier traction), thus going barefoot for the rest of the movie.
    • Would become Losing a Shoe in the Struggle if it's assumed that she meant to put them back on at some point, since they're forgotten about quite quickly when the alligators show up, and as light rubber objects they would've been easily washed away by the subsequent floodwaters. Though the fact that there's a lot of swimming later on probably makes this far less of a hindrance.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • We see two of the looters getting eaten by alligators, while the third blissfully continues pilfering snacks, unaware that he'll be next.
    • The swimming cap Haley wears at the start shows her college team name is, of course, the Gators.
  • Eye Scream: Haley is fond of delivering those to attacking alligators.
  • Hope Spot: Several. Haley and her father do everything they can to get help and even manage to find several people willing to help. Unfortunately, things don't work out either because of the alligators or the hurricane.
  • Improvised Weapon: Haley and Dave have no actual weapons to defend themselves for much of the film, but manage to put screwdrivers, shovels, road flares and bricks, among other items, to effective use.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Lee, the female looter, initially isn't sure about Haley's distress call, then wonders if its someone trying to shoot them for looting (although she seems to change her mind and be glancing at the house more carefully herself right before being attacked).
  • "Jaws" First-Person Perspective: As expected from a movie revolving around water-based predators.
  • Kill It with Fire: Haley jams a lit flare into one gator's eye while it has her in a death roll. It doesn't kill it, but it wounds and disorients it enough for her to escape.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: Sugar to both Haley and Dave. Even though there are alligators who could eat him as a snack, he refuses to abandon them and is constantly waiting for their return.
  • Made of Iron: Haley and her dad are bitten and severely wounded several times, Dave gets his arm ripped off but none of these injuries impede them as much as you'd expect. Taken to the extreme late in the film, when Haley gets caught in a deathroll, and manages to keep going. Even with adrenaline keeping them going, they're outswimming alligators, climbing buildings, and walking around when such bites should have ripped muscles, crushed bone, and snapped tendons. It's very egregious given everyone else who gets bitten is instantly killed or debilitated.
  • Mama Bear: Haley discovers that an alligator has laid eggs beneath the house, which have recently hatched. So at least one of the alligators is apparently the mother trying to drive humans away from her nest. Unlike most reptiles, crocodilians defend their nests.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: As if being trapped during a hurricane isn't enough, Haley and her dad also have to deal with human-hunting alligators.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: Only Haley, her father and her dog are alive at the end as while we saw 5 people (3 looters and 2 policemen) get Eaten Alive by the alligators.
  • Off with His Head!: As Pete is being devoured by a pack of alligators, you can see his head being torn off.
  • Papa Wolf: Dave Keller. Not even losing an arm will keep him from protecting his daughter.
  • Police Are Useless: Haley calls for help over the portable radio, but the police are both eaten within minutes of arriving.
  • Product Placement: A few brand names are placed conspicuously throughout the first 20 minutes or so.
  • Revealing Reflection: The looter inside the store sees a gator creeping up behind him through the mirror used to watch for robbers.
  • Rising Water, Rising Tension: Haley and Dave's need to escape the basement is increased by the fact that it's only a matter of time before the hurricane floods it. When the levee dikes break and a massive wave washes over Coral Lake, this goes for the rest of the house at an insane rate.
  • Rule of Three: Haley gets bitten no less than three times over the course of the film.
  • Sewer Gator: Dave surmises the alligators got into their basement through a storm drain.
  • Shovel Strike: Dave uses a shovel to defend himself from an alligator attack and partially decapitate it.
  • Siblings in Crime: Two of the looters, Marv and Stan, are brothers (the third appears to be one of their girlfriends).
  • Somewhere, a Herpetologist Is Crying: Real life alligators are rather placid compared to crocodiles, and humans are not their preferred prey. Even if the writer replaced the antagonists with saltwater crocodiles (arguably the most aggressive crocodilian and who had no qualms about eating humans), a herpetologist would likely still be hesitant to call these animal behaviors realistic. They also don't build underground nests because they need sunlight to keep the eggs warm. And female alligators try to seek secluded areas away from humans and other alligators to build their nests.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Piranha 3D, another Alexandre Aja horror film about killer aquatic animals. Whereas that film was Played for Laughs with tons of Black Comedy and Bloody Hilarious gore, this is a straightforward horror movie that treats its predators as a serious threat.
    • For similiar reasons of tone, it's also sometimes contrasted with Sharknado. The movie about a tornado full of sharks is silly and campy, while the movie about a hurricane full of alligators is fairly straight-faced and serious.
  • Spiritual Successor: The film plays like a spiritual sequel of sorts to The Shallows, though with gators instead of sharks. Both films have an extremely similar feel.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Real alligators would generally try to find somewhere sheltered to hunker down during a hurricane, not go hunting. However, the gators are shown to have built a nest in the basement, so not only are they hungry, they also have eggs to defend.
  • Trapped-with-Monster Plot: Haley and her father are trapped in their house by an incoming category 5 hurricane, which prevents them from easily getting help. To make matters worse, a group of alligators have moved into the house with the rising floodwaters, and alligators can swim better than humans can.
  • Truth in Television: The gator's death roll when it bites Haley's shoulder. Real gators use this to disorient their prey.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Said almost word for word, with an f-bomb thrown in by Haley. Once Haley, Dave and Sugar get in a boat just as the levies give out. There is still a chance...only for the water to smash their boat right back into their exact same house!