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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Crawl (Blu-ray)
Crawl (Blu-ray)
Paramount // R // October 15, 2019 // Region A
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted October 17, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Movie:

Haley (Kaya Scodelario), finishes up practice with her college swim team when she gets a phone call from her sister Beth (Morfydd Clark). She's concerned that she hasn't heard back from their father, Dave (Barry Pepper), who lives on the coast of Florida which is about to get walloped by a category five hurricane. After failing to reassure her sister that he's probably fine, she gets in her SUV and makes the two-hour drive to the coast to check in on their old man, blowing past a police checkpoint to get there before the storm really kicks in.

After making it to Dave's place and finding his dog Sugar there but not finding her father in the home, she eventually winds up poking about in the crawl space beneath the house. Here she finds her dad, not dead, but injured and in pretty rough shape. But that isn't everything that she finds. See, the crawl cellar is connected to a drainage pipe and that pipe has allowed a really big alligator to get inside. As the water starts to rise, Haley finds herself in a race against both time and one of nature's deadliest predators to save not only her father, but herself.

While the basic concept behind Crawl is realistic enough, there are moments where you definitely have to suspend your disbelief. There are a few spots where characters make questionable choices and a scene or two where you have to believe Haley could outswim a really big alligator (hey, she was on the swim team, right?) but once you're able to just accept that there are going to be moments where logic doesn't apply as strictly as it should, you'll find that this one delivers. Director Alexandre Aja (he of High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes remake fame, among others) takes the first twenty or so minutes of the eighty-seven-minute feature to set up the idea and then, we're off. The rest of the film proves to be very tense, quite exciting and, at times, genuinely scary. Athough these scares are more of the jump scare variety than the type of lasting horror you'd get some something like The Exorcist, this is a different kind of horror movie, it's a popcorn film, a creature feature meant to provide audiences with an hour-and-a-half worth of entertainment and escapism, not more, no less.

Though the creature effects are done pretty much entirely digitally in this film, to the SFX team's credit, they're done very well. The effects look real enough, the movement we see is pretty realistic, there aren't any moments here where you jump up and say ‘that's not real, it's just a computer effect' (an all too common occurrence in movies that feature digitally rendered beasties).

The performances from the small cast are solid. Morfydd Clark is only in the movie for a couple of minutes, appearing in a ‘Face Time' chat with her sister. Barry Pepper is likeable as the father, a salt of the Earth type, old school in the way he does things, but clearly a man with his daughter's best intentions at heart. Pepper plays this part well enough, he is convincingly surly. Kaya Scodelario gets the majority of the screen time in the picture. She's well cast, believably athletic in appearance and she comes across as convincingly normal most of the time. There are a few spots where the script gives she and Pepper a bit of drama to chew on, particularly a conversation where they talk about how he pushed her as a child, and their performances here are effective and, as such, help to give the characters a bit of depth.

In the end, this might not be a particularly deep or thought provoking picture, but it definitely entertains, managing to engage us with some decent characters and keep us on the edge of our collective seat with some tight suspense and a few good scares.

The Video:

Crawl arrives on Blu-ray from Paramount on a 50 GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer that is framed in the movie's original 2.39.1 aspect ratio. This is an excellent transfer. Detail is frequently outstanding, reference quality stuff, and the image is immaculate. Color reproduction looks great (although given that the movie takes place either outdoors in a hurricane or in a dimly lit crawl space you have to keep your expectations in check here) while black levels are nice and deep. There are no noticeable compression problems or authoring issues. Skin tones look nice and natural, very lifelike, and there's impressive depth and texture evident throughout the entirety of the movie.

The Audio:

Audio is presented in English language DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio with optional subtitles provided in English, English SDH, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Malay, Mandarin and Thai. Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound tracks are available in French, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese and Thai.

The DTS-HD 7.1 track on the disc is also fantastic. Although there isn't a lot of rear channel activity at first, that changes once the action kicks in and the water starts really pouring. At this point, there's fairly constant use of all channels in the mix to create an impressive and immersive experience. Dialogue stays clean, clear and easy to follow throughout and the levels are nicely balanced from start to finish. As you'd expect for a brand-new major studio production, there are no problems with any hiss or distortion at all. No complaints, this is a very strong mix and the disc sounds great.

The Extras:

Extras start out with a five-minute alternate opening sequence done as a motion comic as it was never actually filmed. In this segment, we see a family stuck in the hurricane and the alligators make what would have been their first appearance. A twenty-five second optional intro from Aja gives a bit of context to this piece.

Beneath Crawl is a twenty-eight-minute ‘making of' segment that is made up of cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes footage. Most of the principals appear here, talking about how something like this could feasibly happen in real life, where the story came from, how the project was developed, what it was like on set, difficulties encountered during the shoot, effects work and more. It's fairly interesting stuff. Complementing this is Category 5 Gators: The VFX Of Crawl, which is a twelve-minute look at what went into creating the computer generated alligators that prove to be such a menace in the film.

Rounding out the extras on the disc are three deleted scenes running just over six-minutes in length (I Guess I'm Off the Team, You Were Never Going To Evacuate and Don't Quit On Me), menus and chapter selection.

This release comes packaged with a slipcover and as it is a combo pack we also get a DVD version of the movie as well as an insert containing a download code for a digital HD version of the film.

Overall:

Crawl requires you to suspend your disbelief but once you get to that point, it's a really tightly paced and intense film with some impressive effects work, solid direction and quality acting. Paramount's Blu-ray release isn't stacked with extras but it offers some extra features worth checking out, while the audio and video presentation is excellent. Highly recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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