hurricane

Crawl

crawl

A category 5 hurricane is heading straight for Florida. A young woman is unable to reach her father, so she decides to brave the storm to try and find him. What she finds instead is a nest of dangerous alligators. She will have to fight the predators and the rising floodwaters in order to save herself and her father.

This tension-filled film is directed by Alexandre Aja (High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes) and written by sibling duo Michael and Shawn Rasmussen (The Ward, The Inhabitants). The film follows Haley, who is on the college swim team. She has a strained relationship with her father, but when she can’t reach him as the storm approaches, she is compelled to drive over to check on him. When she discovers him in the crawl space under their house and realizes he’e been attacked by an alligator, she has to go into full survivor-mode.

The thing that makes this film so effective and brings suspense to the audience is the combination of killer animals and being trapped in a small space. Killer alligators are terrifying enough on their own and, as we have seen in many “when animals attack” type horror films, they are very entertaining to watch. But alligators aren’t all that fast on land, so something more needs to be done to make them more frightening. The filmmakers take it to the next level with Crawl by keeping most of the film confined to the tight crawl space with no means of escape. It gives the film a very claustrophobic fear to compound the terror brought by the alligators. Then that terror is taken to all new heights when the small crawl space begins to fill with flood waters. It leaves the characters with the options of staying put and drowning or attempting to get past the alligators. Both options are enough to strike fear and panic in the hearts of audiences.

Crawl primarily focuses on two characters and both of them give the audience someone to root for. Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile) is tough as nails as Haley. She is a very strong female character with a complicated relationship with her family and a love-hate relationship with being a competitive swimmer. Scodelario is always a joy to watch and her portrayal of Haley delivers a dynamic, complicated, and kick-ass character. Barry Pepper (The Green Mile, True Grit) plays Haley’s dad, Dave. Pepper does an amazing job of playing the supportive dad who sometimes takes things a bit too far when trying to push his child to do better. Scodelario and Pepper play off each other very well. Much of the complexity with both of their characters comes from their strained relationship as we watch Dave fall back into his old swim coach ways as he talks to Haley. Their relationship and the way it strengthens throughout the film gives Crawl it’s heart. I also want to give a very special shout-out to Cso-Cso, the dog who plays Sugar, for being absolutely adorable, even when in peril.

For a summer creature-feature, this film has some very impressive effects. Most of the alligators are CGI, but they look absolutely stunning. There is one scene where the CGI looks especially gorgeous as the audience is shown a close-up of one of the alligator’s mouths. The use of CGI allows for the alligators to traverse the crawl space and the flood waters in order to deliver many fantastic jump-scares. The practical effects are equally well done. In any animal attack film it is a guarantee we will see bloody wounds from bites. The gore is truly taken to an unexpected level in this film. Most likely this is Aja’s influence. He is known for lots of amazing gore. Between bites, breaks, and other horrifying injuries, the practical effects are sure to make audience members cringe, gasp, and maybe even avert their eyes.

Crawl is the perfect summer creature-feature bringing action, scares, gore, and tons of thrills. Aja is definitely known for giving crowd-pleasing, bloody horror films and Crawl is no different. He expertly combines different fears to create a fun and thrilling summer flick with fantastic performances by Scodelario and Pepper. It may surprise audiences, but the story created by the Rasmussens delivers not only on the action and scares. It’s also a great heartfelt story about family coming together and conquering past issues. I wouldn’t suggest going into this film assuming you will see the next Oscar-winner, but if you go in expecting something that is fun and will have you on the edge of your seat, then Crawl is sure to be a fan-favorite.

OVERALL RATING: 8/10

Inoperable

inoperable

Amy awakens in a seemingly abandoned hospital during a hurricane. As she explores the halls of the hospital she discovers the remaining doctors and nurses are doing horrible things to the few patients left. What’s even worse is that Amy’s time in the hospital keeps resetting, making her wake up in the hospital bed over and over. Amy must find a way to escape the hospital before she ends up stuck in her loop forever.

Inoperable is the kind of film that reveals more and more layers as you watch it. At first, nothing seems to entirely make sense. We watch as Amy repeatedly wakes up in a hospital bed, transported from her car stuck in traffic, while she attempts to find out what is happening. Many viewers will likely compare this time loop to films like Groundhog Day and the more recent Happy Death Day. When she’s in the hospital it quickly becomes clear something isn’t right with the staff. The doctors and nurses all seem to want to perform horrific, unnecessary, and painful procedures to torture the few remaining patients, including Amy. The beginning feels a bit slow as Amy wakes up multiple times in the hospital and simply explores the landscape, getting her bearings for this strange place. From there we learn more about what Amy has to do to survive, and possibly escape, right along with her. Once the plot picks up a bit it gets much more interesting, but then the end has quite a significant twist. While the twist made me think more highly of the film, it is still problematic. Throughout the film there are several references to a military base doing experiments, which is a possible explanation for the time loop. Even before the twist this felt like an afterthought to the rest of the plot, but after the twist it makes even less sense. With the twist, you get a better understanding for much of the prior events, but I feel like the mention of the military base ends up being pointless and muddies the plot.

One of the highlights of this film are some of the visual aspects. The most interesting visual is how the filmmakers chose to show the transitions as Amy goes from being in her car during the day to stuck in the hospital during a hurricane. As they begin to show it happen more and more the transitions become much more interesting and clever. Another interesting visual aspect of the film is the practical effects. The surgical procedures performed by the hospital staff are gruesome, gory, and surprisingly well done for a lower budget film. It is clear in many of these scenes that the point is to shock and disturb viewers, and the filmmakers do a decent job of just that.

Many horror fans will likely see this film for one reason, Danielle Harris (Halloween 4, Hatchet II). Harris is horror film royalty at this point, and her sizable fan base will bring quite a few viewers to this film to watch her as the lead, Amy. In the beginning of the film Harris seems a bit off. It isn’t until she has other people to interact with that Harris gets her stride and really brings an attention-grabbing performance. Amy is a survivor, which is a role Harris is very familiar with, and as the film progresses Harris is able to show more of the characters strength and determination. When the twist comes into play Harris truly shines, delivering a memorable performance. Unfortunately, some of the smaller rolls detract from the film. For example, with some of the actors portraying the hospital staff, much of the delivery comes across as someone simply reading lines from the script. Luckily there aren’t many scenes focusing on those characters, instead focusing on Amy and a couple other key characters, who also deliver enjoyable performances.

While Inoperable was interesting enough to hold my attention, it isn’t a film I will likely watch again. The plot has its highs and lows. While the twist is definitely entertaining and unexpected, it only adds to the muddled feeling of the plot. The highlights of the film are the visuals and and Danielle Harris as the lead, but some of the other performances take away from the quality of the acting overall. Harris will definitely be a draw for fans. Looking at the rest of her filmography, it is clear that this isn’t one of her best films, although through no fault of her own. The film is one that many viewers will quickly forget, especially with the similarity to other recent horror films.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10