‘Crawl’ Trailer: Alexandre Aja’s Gets His Bite Back

After branching out with mixed results in recent years, the French director has returned to his comfort zone.
By  · Published on May 2nd, 2019

We’re bracing ourselves for some exciting summer releases, but one movie we’ve been looking forward to since the start of the year is Crawl. You see, summer is the one time of year where getting soaked in water is appealing to some folks. That’s why it’s also a perfect time to release a movie that reminds us of how dangerous and deadly water can sometimes be. Water is terrifying.

Crawl is a movie that will bring some refreshing darkness and despair to the upcoming release slate. It also looks like a super fun and intense horror romp. Check out the trailer below, but don’t expect to come out of it not worrying about dogs.

Directed by Alexandre Aja from a script by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, Crawl follows Haley Keller (Kaya Scodelario) who, trapped in a flooding house following a massive hurricane, must save her father (Barry Pepper) from the rising water — and the giant alligator that swims beneath it.

First of all, that’s a fantastic concept for a horror movie. It presents viewers with the thought-provoking question: would you rather drown to death or be eaten by an alligator. A film about either scenario on its own would make for a potentially horrific experience, but combining both is a nice touch. It’s as if someone took the concept of Sharknado, replaced the sharks with an alligator, and decided to make something that’s realistic and scary.

It’s also been a while since we last saw a movie about a beast of the crocodilian variety receive a substantial theatrical release. The last year of note for this subgenre was 2007, which treated us to Rogue, Primeval, and Black Water. However, none of those movies appeared in multiplexes worldwide for a substantial amount of time. As Bloody Disgusting’s John Squires pointed out, the last widespread releases for a movie featuring a toothy amphibious reptile was 1999’s Lake Placid. That was 20 years ago.

Of course, given the mild resurgence in aquatic-themed horror in recent years, a new alligator flick was only a matter of time. Recent movies have predominantly focused on sharks, so it’s great to see other water-based creatures get a chance to feed. Besides, crocs and gators are much scarier than sharks. Without water sharks are harmless. Crocs and gators, meanwhile, thrive in water and can also survive on land. It’s surprising that mainstream horror filmmakers haven’t taken advantage of these deadly bastards more often.

More than anything, though, Crawl marks Aja’s return to making horror movies with some bite. Since 2010’s Piranha 3D (another aquatic horror flick), the French director has shifted his focus to horror-tinged mystery-thrillers. While Horns and The 9th Life of Louis Drax were admirable attempts to branch out (I think Horns is very underrated), Aja is at his best when he’s delivering simple, vicious crowd pleasers.

After helping put extreme French horror on the map with the impressive — and straight-up brutal — home invasion thriller High Tension (aka Switchblade Romance) in 2003, Aja made his way to Hollywood to helm The Hills Have Eyes remake, which pitted an unfortunate family against a family of mutant cannibals. Aja was handpicked by Wes Craven, director of the 1977 original, to handle the redo. Being personally selected by one of the greatest horror filmmakers ever to walk this Earth is no small feat, and Aja didn’t disappoint.

Remakes are a divisive topic among the horror faithful, but it’s not uncommon to find those who prefer Aja’s version to the original. The movie is ugly, savage, and loads of gruesome fun. Furthermore, some commentators and academics also interpreted the film as a powerful allegory for post-9/11 America, but the film’s biggest strength lies in its ability to shock and awe. It was also a box office success that cemented Aja as a household name with a strong penchant for cinematic sadism.

Aja’s next feature Mirrors, a remake of the South Korean chiller Into the Mirror, wasn’t the best reflection of his talent, though. The decision to tackle a supernatural movie allowed the director to show that there was more to him than gore and splatter, but the movie itself is an uninspired and dull remake. However, Mirrors does contain a couple of scenes of compelling suspense, so it’s not as if Aja lost his knack for delivering effective scares. Even Aja’s lesser movies include some worthwhile moments.

Fortunately, his remake of Joe Dante’s Piranha marked a strong return to form and a style which suits his sensibilities. To this day Piranha 3D remains the most over-the-top, fun, and uproariously violent movie in the director’s oeuvre. However, like High Tension and Hills Have Eyes, it’s a movie that reaffirms how Aja is at his best when he embraces simple, bloody thrills. His subsequent efforts didn’t reach the same highs in the eyes of fans and critics, but his upcoming return to aquatic terror should go down a treat if it’s even half as good as Piranha 3D.

Whether or not Crawl is a gruesome affair remains to be seen, but the trailer does suggest that we’ll see some bloodletting. Plus, I can’t imagine Aja helming an alligator movie that doesn’t feature a creature eating some poor souls. The dog is definitely going to become gator grub. Either way, it’s nice to see Aja make his long-awaited return to straight-laced horror fare. Here’s hoping that the movie makes alligators a force to be reckoned with at the box office.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.