There’s a tiger in your tank, there’s a ‘gator in your basement. We’ve been sorely underserved with creature features in recent years. Creepy dolls? Oh, man, we’ve had plenty of those. Haunted houses? It’s a wonder anybody’s been able to sell a place in the last decade or so, given the sheer number of spooky abodes on the horror market, but where’ve the creature features been at? Luckily there’s a brand new monster movie slithering this way.
Crawl takes it old school, here to scare the living daylights out of you with one of nature’s most terrifying creations: the alligator. Haley (played by Kaya Scodelario aka Effy from Skins) is a swimmer returning to her hometown, which is being besieged by a savage hurricane, to rescue her father (Barry Pepper), who’s trapped in a crawl space and being attacked by – you guessed it – alligators. Produced by Evil Dead director Sam Raimi and directed by The Hills Have Eyes (2006) horror maestro Alexandre Aja, it’s a brutally effective and gore-splattered horror.
The movie also marks a welcome return to the creature feature, a fondly remembered staple of the genre. But what are the top five examples from yesteryear? Look out! Here they come…
Well, obviously. Where else could we have started? Alan Jones, horror film aficionado and co-director of the gnarly film festival Frightfest, has said that “Crawl does for ‘gators what Jaws did for Sharks”, which gives you an idea of the level of terror in every snap of every scaly jaw. Since we’ve pretty much got Jaws to thank for the whole B-movie-inspired summer blockbuster thing, you could do worse than revisiting Steven Spielberg’s career-making masterpiece.
Lake Placid (1999)
What, you think we can’t include two alligator movies in one article? Well, Lake Placid’s actually about a crocodile, and your assumption is offensive to both the crocodile and alligator communities. The film was extremely hyped upon its release, and no wonder: the croc in question is an astonishing feat of CGI, a swaggering, snapping behemoth that could polish you off in one bite between meals. It’s a less savage movie than Crawl, as the horror’s partly played for laughs.
Burning Bright (2010)
Perhaps a loose inspiration for Crawl, this is a high-concept horror about a young woman (Briana Evigan) and her son becoming trapped in a house hit by a hurricane and also, unfortunately, occupied by a tiger intent on devouring her. Mama said there’ll be days like this. The movie’s tensest moment puts a unique spin on the old ‘hiding under a bed trick’ and there’s some genuinely moving drama, too. This taut horror-thriller more than earns its stripes.
Check out Crawl star Kaya Scodelario and director Alexandre Aja talking about the film and playing Alligator True or False below:
The classic scary movie set-up: a documentary crew is embarking on a mission that they don’t quite understand. They’re cruising down the amazon to rescue stranded snake hunter (Jon Voight). The crew (Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube among them) are then set-upon by a jumbo snake of epic proportions – this thing is about 40ft! There’s tremendous fun to be had in guessing who’ll picked off next; the action grips harder than the titular snake.
Black Sheep (2006)
Rather than making a mockery of the beloved creature feature, Black Sheep is a fond parody of the genre – always a sure sign that a cultural phenomenon that has taken root in the collective consciousness. We’re in New Zealand, where pesky genetic engineering has accidentally resulted in a super-strain of violent sheep with a taste for human flesh. The action gets off to a fair trot pretty quickly, escalating into eye-watering violence even as the tone remains jokey.
Crawl is in cinemas now