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It’s comforting to know that, in an industry flooded with a tidal wave of cookie-cutter Jump Scare-fests and Paranormal Activity knockoffs that there exist horror films like this that are packed to the gills with demonstrable effort and stand out in a sea of unoriginality. It’s also good to see that, despite Sharknado’s best efforts to turn the “disaster-horror” subgenre into a parody of itself, this type of movie isn’t completely dead in the water.
The thing that helps “Crawl” stand out as a horror film is its low-key sense of scale. Instead of going for the fantastic, we get the relatively simple set-up of two people trapped in a flooded house being hunted by a family of crocodiles. This is scary not only because this sort of thing could happen to us in real life, but because they do everything possible with this deceptively brilliant set-up instead of just relying on gore and jump-scares to get the juices pumping. The film’s greatest strength is its use of atmosphere: the low ceilings and cramped corridors are combined with excellent lighting, music, and camera angles to ratchet up the tension until you’re jumping at every shadow. You know the crocs are coming, but when? Where?
The movie also refreshingly subverts Developing Doomed Characters, instead going to great lengths to give the father and daughter complex personalities and backstory to make them believable as characters.
The only complaint a I have is some conspicuous Product Placement visible throughout the first act. Otherwise, solid film. 7/10.
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