In the survival-horror movie “Crawl,” Kaya Scodelario must fend off a relentless attack by gigantic alligators after a hurricane hits her Florida hometown. (Paramount Pictures)

In the survival-horror movie “Crawl,” Kaya Scodelario must fend off a relentless attack by gigantic alligators after a hurricane hits her Florida hometown. (Paramount Pictures)

One-note ‘Crawl’ revels sadistically in graphic gator gore

A woman and her father battle a hurricane and huge alligators. There’s not much else going on.

If you take a hurricane, and add alligators — actually, that’s it, basically. Say hello to “Crawl,” a movie that makes a bad situation even more miserable.

Our heroine, Haley (Kaya Scodelario), is a college swimming champ, curious about why her dad doesn’t return her messages. It would be foolish to drive to his house a couple of hours away, because a major hurricane is slamming the Florida coast, and the old homestead is right in the path of the storm.

So she drives there, and — for reasons too complicated to go into — finds herself stuck in the crawlspace underneath the house. Her dad (Barry Pepper) is down there, with a broken leg and some nasty-looking alligator bites.

The movie’s big on detailing its characters’ wounds; all the compound fractures and easily chomped-off limbs come to vivid life. If this much loving attention had been paid to writing the dialogue, we might have something here.

Anyway, the crawlspace is filling up with water, and two giant gators have settled in between the humans and the stairs leading up to the main floor. This will require some ingenuity, and also the ability to hold one’s breath for a really, really long time. Did we mention Haley is a swimmer?

The script by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen provides some gator-bait in the form of passersby, just so we’re not stuck in the dank basement the whole time. The supporting victims are sadistically dispatched, mere distractions from the main business of father-daughter bonding.

Given how basic the situation is, “Crawl” works awfully hard to provide backstory for the family dynamic: the overbearing father pushing his child to excel, the daughter blaming herself for her parents’ divorce.

By the time the levee breaks and the waters rise into the other floors of the house, the movie is like a Freudian nightmare. The familiar spaces of this once-happy, now-broken home fill with garbage and snapping gators, as poor Haley tries to survive her sentimental journeys through the bathroom and her childhood bedroom.

At least I think director Alexandre Aja is pushing this metaphor; there isn’t much else to concentrate on, except for the special effects and the grouchy reptiles. The movie’s missing that extra dash of style that can boost a monster movie onto the next level.

Scodelario, who made a pleasing impression in the most recent “Pirates of the Caribbean” product, is a sturdy, wide-eyed heroine. She does almost as much tortured grunting as tough guy Barry Pepper, who powers through every bodily trauma imaginable during the film’s no-nonsense 87-minute running time. But he survived playing the lead in “Battlefield Earth,” so no surprises there.

“Crawl” (2 stars)

A hurricane strikes a Florida home, trapping a woman (Kaya Scodelario) and her wounded father (Barry Pepper) in the crawlspace. There are alligators, too — big alligators. Director Alexandre Aja takes a sadistic turn through the situation, but doesn’t have the dash of style that might make this one a cut above average.

Rating: R, for violence, language

Showing: Alderwood, Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre Mountlake Terrace, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Meridian, Pacific Place, Seattle 10, Thornton Place Stadium, Woodinville, Cascade Mall

Talk to us

More in Life

Preston Brust, left, and Chris Lucas of LOCASH perform during CMA Fest 2022 on Thursday, June 8, 2022, at the Chevy Riverfront Stage in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

The country music duo Locash drops by the Angel of the Winds Casino on Saturday. And there’s the Summer Meltdown festival at its new home near Snohomish all weekend.

‘Poco Orange’ Red Hot Poker. (Terra Nova Nurseries)
Warmer weather means brighter, hotter colors in the garden

Here are seven plants that will bring a blazing pop of color to your outdoor spaces.

An easy one-mile loop near the visitor center at Seaquest State Park explores the edge of Silver Lake.
(Scott Hewitt/The Columbian)
Discover seven hidden gems not far from the super slab

Weekend trips: Next time you’re making the I-5 slog toward Oregon, check out some of these parks and preserves just off the freeway corridor.

Caption: Now’s a great time to stock up on free Covid tests available to Washington State residents at:
COVID-19’s behind her except for a nagging cough

But things might have been much different — in a bad way — without testing and vaccines.

The blended-families challenge requires patience, maturity

Don’t expect miracles — it can be rough going for some time. Get professional help if you need it.

Her Turo rental was repossessed with valuable items inside

When Michelle Marshall’s Turo rental gets repossessed, the car-sharing company offers her a partial refund. But what about her son’s expensive epilepsy medication? Is Turo responsible for that?

Lee Oskar and his dog Tex inside his art studio in his home on Wednesday, March 2, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Harmonica whiz Lee Oskar is also a pro with a paintbrush

Oskar’s music and art studios are in his Everett home. The former member of the 1970s band War is now 74, and still rocks “Low Rider.”

The 2022 WM Recycle Corps interns are part of WM’s recycling education and outreach team.
WM Recycle Corps interns return after two-year COVID slowdown

The collegiate interns are back in the community to help improve recycling habits and reduce waste.

Caption: At Flight Room in Lynnwood, aerial fitness poses like “vampire” use every muscle in your body.
Fitness takes flight at new aerial studio in Lynnwood

Jennifer Bardsley finds benefits and “silk kisses” from doing aerial yoga at Lynnwood studio.

Photo Caption: This carved shelf brought $2,500 at New Haven Auctions. Decorations and symbols associated with the Odd Fellows add to its appeal.
Odd Fellows iconography adds to this carved shelf’s value

Fun fact: The Odd Fellows is believed to have originated in medieval trade guilds, with “odd fellow” meaning someone who did odd jobs for a living.

The Limelight Prime Panicle Hydrangea. (Proven Winners)
3 new “pee gee” hydrangeas for gardeners to salivate over

These new shrubs boast better flower color and, in some cases, more compact forms that fit better in smaller gardens.

agave-leaf sea holly (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: agave-leaf sea holly

The distinctive foliage perennial adds architectural structure to the garden, and is drought-tolerant.