Crawl (2011) Content Warning: Bad Language, Violence
Directed by Paul China
Starring George Shevtsov, Bob Newman, Georgina Haig, Baz McAlister
A seedy bar owner hires a mysterious Croatian to commit murder, but a planned double-crossing backfires when a young waitress is taken hostage. A suspenseful, yet darkly humorous chain of events builds to a bloodcurdling climax.
IMDb Rating: 4.7
“Gimme the Crawl”
Crawl: interesting name for a film. I suppose it does feature some crawling. Mostly, the title seems derived from a strange and pointless scene in which douchebag bar owner, Slim Walding (Paul Holmes) encourages waitress, Holly (Lauren Dillon) to crawl towards him for a spanking. She owes him money, for some reason. It probably has something to do with drugs. Slim is the local drug dealer too. There may well only be twenty people in this entire town, so he might as well have his grubby fingers in all the pies!
I say this scene is pointless because we already know Slim is an arsehole. Crawl begins with an unnamed Croatian (George Shevtsov) offing a garage owner, Rusty (Bob Newman). It’s quickly made clear that Slim arranged the hit as Rusty owed him money. It seems everyone owes this guy money! Holly probably got off easy with that spanking. I’ve never really understood why you would have someone murdered because they owe you money. Thinking about it, you’re out of pocket because they haven’t paid you, and then you pay extra to Croatian hitmen to carry out the deed. Seems a bit daft. Couldn’t you have just broken his legs, or something?
Anyway, having wrapped up his business with the Croatian, Slim gives him a bonus of cocaine. The Croatian declines, but Slim is insistent he take it. I suppose nothing says “job well done” like a baggie full of blow, eh? Sadly, for everyone, the Croatian probably shouldn’t have taken the coke. Distracted while prattling around with the bag, he drives into a man in the road and things begin to go south from there.
Mostly they go south for Marilyn Burns (Georgina Haig) – little nod there. Marilyn is home, alone, waiting for her boyfriend who is almost certainly about to propose to her. She’s terribly excited, lighting enough candles in the bedroom for some post-proposal nookie that she could illuminate Belgium for the night. Guess whose house the Croatian happens upon?
It’s Always the Pretty Blonde Ones
I suppose when you’re a contract killer who has just mowed down a stranger, you probably aren’t interested in niceties. So he takes Marilyn captive in her own house while he tries to find an alternative form of transport. In some ways, he is nice about it. The Croatian pulls down Marilyn’s skirt, to demonstrate he has no interest in raping her. That’s an extra star earned in the Movie Psycho Guide.
As you may be able to tell, Crawl hasn’t got the best rating on IMDb. I think I can hazard a guess as to why that might be. It’s not your standard millennial slasher movie. The body count is a mere three, and mostly it’s an attempted exercise in slow-burning suspense with mixed results. On the one hand, some early scenes of Marilyn creeping around her own house are very effective. You feel certain that a big reveal is coming, yet it doesn’t. Each subversion of the norm does succeed in ramping up the tension. This is where the movie truly shines!
However, there are more than a few scenes of our basket-case hitman pottering around the road, accomplishing very little. I understand this is rural Australia, but would he not behave with some urgency? You know, just in case one of the town’s ten citizens decided on a midnight jaunt! At times, he’s so relaxed about moving corpses and covering his tracks, you start to suspect the reason he didn’t want the coke was because he’s already off his twat on weed!
The primary issue with Crawl is that it epitomises style over substance. Oh yes, there’s some striking visuals, adept use of sound and all the technical components to make a great suspense-driven horror thriller. But what story we have doesn’t even support the short, seventy-five minute runtime. Too much of the film is reliant on narrative convenience over logic. Even the bloke who gets struck by the Croatian’s car had no logical reason to be there.
In the end, we have a movie trying to survive on a wafer-thin plot with characters it’s impossible to care much for. While Marilyn is likeable enough, little separates her from the multitude of stunning blonde final girls in horror. The final twist for Marilyn is clearly supposed to leave the viewer in a state of shock. Instead, it’s a case of “Oh, that’s that, then?”.
Crawl is better than its IMDb rating suggests. It could be better had some of the pottering about been scrapped in favour of both narrative and character development.