Crawl (Blu-ray Review)

Crawl has all the makings of a B-grade disaster thriller – ominous weather, a main character who doesn’t listen to authority, impending death. It’s all there in a neat little package. This is a package perfectly wrapped for the audience that doesn’t need deep insight, backstory or terribly emotional acting. This may all sound like a dig and sharp criticism but in truth, these are complimentary truths, highlighted because those were some of the very good things about the film. Check out the in-depth review below for more on this monster/disaster mashup!



Crawl begins amid an awful storm. Hurricane Wendy, category 5 no less, is on its way through Florida. Haley (Kaya Scodelario) has just finished her swim meet at college when she receives a worried FaceTime call from her sister Beth. She hasn’t heard from Dad Dave (Barry Pepper) in a while and knows the storm has hit the state and is of course worried. Enter Beth’s hero complex. She takes off and heads home to find her father. Upon arrival to the apartment he’s staying in, she sees the dog, a bottle of booze and no Pop in sight. After a quick check, Haley believes he may be at the family house and heads there, despite being told by local police to turn around.

This is of course when things as they say get interesting. The storm begins to worsen, with waters rising, roads washing out and waterways overflowing.  Haley arrives home to find an empty place. Upon further exploration she descends to the crawlspace under the house, to find her father unconscious.  He has been down for some time, injured.  As the waters rise, Haley and Dave must work to get themselves out safely without suffering any other injuries in the small cramped space.

This all sounds pretty “cut and dry” right? Did I mention that with the risen water from the swamps nearby there are alligators loose in the neighborhood? A gator is exactly why Dave was injured in the first place.  As the waters continues to flood the crawlspace, more alligators come and go making meals of looters and police and stalking the family members and their dog as they try to escape to safer spaces.

If this sounds like typical disaster and survival films of any time, you’d be right. The edge to this one is that its tongue is placed firmly in cheek. There are unavoidable clichés throughout, and the acting is wooden, but almost to the point that it was destined to be that way and the acting was intended to be this cheeseball addition to the film.  Filmmaker Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes, High Tension, Mirrors) has made films that are horror oriented but almost certainly about survival before. This one appears to be his most mainstream picture to date.  There isn’t really much to complain about in this film if you’re willing to take it for what it is – A popcorn flick, meant to make you jump, laugh and hope for a happy ending. It’s not much of a movie at a scant 85 minutes, but it gets the job done in that time. This is a fun movie overall and if you don’t expect much, you may enjoy it even more than I did.

I will also say that the special effects work in this film is first rate. There is so much believable work done on these effects that at times I was drawn in simply because of how real everything looked. The artists involved should be the ones getting the praise heaped upon them. The moments involving the alligators are the best ones in the film, and the work put into those scenes is certainly one of the reasons I enjoyed the film.


  • Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Clarity/Detail: The image is clean, clear and very detailed overall. It’s surprising something like this didn’t make the jump to 4K because it would benefit from the HDR color grading. This is a great looking image nonetheless and there are tons of details in those dark corners in the crawlspace. Dirt, grime, blood and more look exceptional throughout.
  • Depth: Depth is made clear immediately in the early scenes of Haley in the swimming pool. There is a nuance of depth in every scene as you delve into buildings, under them and into murky water.
  • Black Levels: Blacks are nice and deep. The stormy aspect of the story lends itself to many scenes in darkened areas, with a murky dark palette in indoor scenes that works very well for the presentation
  • Color Reproduction: Colors are presented just as they should be. Everything looks natural and clean and those pops of brighter colors shine just as they should.
  • Flesh Tones: Natural and perfect. The actors are beaten, bloodied or dirty, but look like they got that way naturally!
  • Noise/Artifacts: Clean


  • Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Thai – Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Malay, Mandarin, Thai
  • Dynamics: This is a great mix for dynamics. The track is great at any listening level. Every sound is placed perfectly in the sound field and sounds are all over the place when need be.
  • Low Frequency Extension: Bass is deep in moments where bass is called for and the low end extends itself nicely in action scenes and jump scare moments.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds are used almost constantly for sounds of water, be it rain, or splashing or thrashing. Water fills the surrounds. A helicopter and some boats and cars make their way into those channels as well.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is perfectly placed in the center channel and is intelligible throughout.


Crawl comes to Blu-ray with a glossy slipcover and digital code and the following special features:

  • Intro to Alternate Opening
  • Alternate Opening
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Beneath Crawl
  • Category 5 Gators: The VFX of Crawl
  • Alligator Attacks

The alternate scenes and openings don’t do anything to signal that Crawl would be a different film with or without them. The EPK featurettes are standard fare, lasting only a few minutes for each one.  The features included are the type you get in typical Blu-ray releases nowadays.


Crawl is a spirited survival flick that doesn’t take itself seriously. It’s one of those simple movies that doesn’t beg for a viewer to delve deeper than the surface. It’s of note to say that a film that has three main characters (one of which being a dog) will not have a lot of substance and this is ever true here, but you can see where there is a re-watchability to this film in that it is a silly cheesy film that you can experience a little escapism with. This isn’t a film to reinvent filmmaking at any cost, but one of those matinee movies we haven’t seen much of recently. Fun and worth a look!

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