Crawl – Review

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Crawl - Review

Crawl or “Beware the Man in the Big Hat” as it’s not known as but will be now for the purposes of this sentence is a surprising crime/thriller/horror from Australia.

Following two stories; one about a stern Croatian hitman (George Shevtsov) complete a hit for the local scum-bag-bar-owner Slim (Paul Holmes). The other plot revolves around waitress at said bar Marilyn (Georgina Haig) who believes that tonight is the night that her fiance, who’s returning from his travels, will pop the big question. You know. The question. Oooooo. It’s exciting! Anyway some stuff gets ballsed up and the the Croatian hitman ends up holding Marilyn hostage in her own home for some reason. Yeah it really does seem to happen just like that.

Crawl has been getting some good press off the festival circuit and it’s easy enough to see why. Without knowing too much about it you may expect a low-budget horror thriller called simply Crawl to be some kind of low-grade monster movie or torture porn that brings little new to either respective party. Instead Crawl is a surprisingly well observed crime thriller that borrows more from horror films than being one its self. Many comparisons have been made between Crawl and the Coen Brothers Blood Simple. A quick glimpse at IMDB trivia reveals that the director asked the cast & crew to keep it in mind when making the film which actually does Crawl a dis-service. Sadly the nods to Blood Simple are so blindingly apparent that it’s hard to shake it from your mind whilst trying to take Crawl as a work in it’s own right. Even as the film switches from crime-thriller to home invasion horror it manages to retain memories of the Coen’s classic noir. Right down to the sartorial elegance of our focal hitman which kept reminding me of M. Emmet Walsh.

The film starts well, whilst it plays out as a slickly shot crime caper. Nice banter and the characters of likeable and unlikable as the writers want. It’s when we hit the home invasion portion of the film that it seems to “crawl” to a halt. Director/Writer Paul China certainly knows his horror onions. Rather than turning the scenes where the hitman holds Marilyn hostage are played as still and tense as possible, this ain’t Panic Room. No dazzling camera sweeps or smash cuts. He allows the camera to linger and for long passages of time to play out in silence as the two play cat and mouse. Unfortunately rather than being creepy or tense it feels really dull. It reminded me of the scene in Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain where he wanted to show how hard it was to kill a man. The scene in question has Paul Newman taking several minutes to kill an assassin. Instead of being a thrilling scene of death played out in real time my deranged movie brain just thought “can we kill him already?”. Much of the same here “either kill the girl or be on your way sir”. Apart from the occasional outbursts of over-dramatic music that you may find cheesy or delightfully referential of old school horrors.

Ultimately a disappointing experience. I was rooting for Crawl to work. It’s snappy criminal start is spoiled by a over cooked home invasion plot that shows the director has the knowledge but not the skills yet to execute them. I look forward to seeing what Paul China comes up with next. It’s worth giving Crawl a try to seeing an emerging talent, but just be ready with a copy of Blood Simple for afterwards.

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