This entire week has moved at a snail's pace. I've been complaining about it a lot and I'm going to do it again because everyone should feel my pain, but I've been sick since Monday and it's been a struggle. Friday has been the light at the end of a very long tunnel and I'm hoping it's not a freight train coming my way. When I get sick, it usually takes a week before I'm better, but at least I won't have to worry about work for two days. It just feels like the week has slowed to a CRAWL. Get it? Well, you will because I recently sat down to watch...
Before I moved to Florida, I knew alligators were a thing that people had to deal with. I was prepared. What I was not prepared for was just how prevalent they are down here. I've seen a few in the wild, but they are literally everywhere. I won't get near the edge of the water down here because it is extremely likely there is at least one in every single body of water. People say they're scared of sharks, but they should be scared of gators. I would much rather have an encounter with a sharkie. Most attacks are because a shark thinks you're a seal. In the vast majority of cases, it will take a bite, not like the taste and leave to find something else to snack on. An alligator won't let go unless you make it let you go.
Hurricanes are another thing I've had to live with. Tampa, luckily, hasn't had a hurricane make direct landfall since 1921. Ian last year was expected to, but it shifted just enough that it went elsewhere. We still got the winds and rain, but it could have been a lot worse. Many believe it's because an old native tribe blessed the land and its last remaining burial ground is what keeps Tampa safe from the massive storms. For Floridians, hurricanes and gators are an ongoing concern and threat. It's why today's movie hit so close to home.
A University of Florida swimmer, Hayley, is going to check on her dad who isn't answering his phone as the hurricane is bearing down on him. I like that they made her go to UF because guess what their team name is... You got it, the Gators! She drives down to somewhere near Pasco County to find her dad. Pasco County is in my station's DMA, so her father was clearly not listening to Chief Meteorologist Denis Phillips and decided to ride out the storm. Big mistake! As Denis will tell you; you hide from the wind, but you run from the water! She goes to his condo, but he's not there. So she scoops up her dad's dog Sugar, and they continue their trek to their childhood home. While there she finds her dad unconscious and bleeding in the crawl space below their house. While trying to drag him to safety, they run afoul of a giant gator that is in a foul mood.
Crawl is one of the most tense movies I've ever seen. The majority of it takes place in the small crawl space under the house. If you remember when I said hide from the wind, but run from the water? Well, that's a major problem as well because the flood waters are rising and that gator has set up shop near the stairs. Because it's dark and because the animals spend a lot of time underwater, you have no idea where they are at any given moment. Making matters worse, more of them keep getting into the crawl space and soon the levies will break and our heroes will drown if they don't find a way out. I'm just going to come out and say it. This is probably the best animal-monster movie since Jaws.
I was watching the film and really enjoying it, but then I got a sinking feeling. I remembered the dog, Sugar, hadn't been seen in a while. I was tired and with two dogs of my own, I couldn't bear to see it get eaten. Let me tell you, DoesTheDogDie.com is such a handy site to have in your back pocket.
What I loved about the movie was how it managed to keep your attention the whole time. It never lets you settle in or think these people are safe but it also gives the characters reason not to fall into despair. At one point she sees people across the way looting a gas station. She finally manages to get the attention of one of them, but the entire group gets wiped out by the gators in an absolutely brutal fashion. It plays this game with the audience so many times but it never gets close to getting old. It plays out like Don't Breathe in a way, except not every person on your screen is horrible. Hayley and her father Dave, played by Barry Pepper, are good and likable. It's easy to get invested in their plight, not because the movie expects you to, but because the two put in the work.
It's one of those movies where everything builds up to an escape attempt, and there are chunks where nothing happens but the anticipation is so thick. It never drags and I didn't even want to blink because I didn't want to miss anything. The gators, even when not on screen, are front and center. They could be anywhere at any time outside of one little corner they can't squeeze through. At any point, they could pop out of the water and do that gator chomp. While watching, you are 100% with these people. As Hayley is creeping around the basement or swimming underwater, you hold your breath right along with her because it's so tense. The chase scenes are so well done and the close calls are so close and scary, that I let out involuntary gasps multiple times.
I also loved the backdrop of the hurricane. Storms and horror go hand in hand and you don't get much better stormy horror weather than a hurricane. Plus, this movie isn't that far-fetched. During Hurricane Idalia, I was coordinating live shots in the control room and there were several stories of animals being not where they're supposed to be because of the storm. That's one of the many reasons they tell people to stay out of floodwaters during the storm.
I've been singing this movie's praises and with good reason, but it has one major flaw. Hayley and Dave manage to escape the jaws of these gators multiple times. Like, I get it, you want to show that these creatures are always there and can attack in an instant. I don't even mind the way they kept escaping. The only problem I had with it is how they seem to shake it off faster than Taylor Swift. I also get if the gator cripples her we won't get the cool chases later, but alligators have a bite force of 2000 pounds per square inch, and she was bit on the leg, at least a limp would be nice. For comparison, lions only bite with 600 psi. Yikes! With that said, there is an awesomely gruesome scene involving one of them in the final act that I'm not going to spoil, but it's wild.
I liked this movie a lot. It is insanely tense, it keeps up its claustrophobic atmosphere, the setting is awesome, the acting is damn good, the baddies are scary and it keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. It was also Quentin Tarantino's favorite movie of 2019. I mean that's a high endorsement for a movie with such a simple premise.
9.5 Dr. Chainsaws!