Crawl ★★★★

A few years ago, I was really taken with THE SHALLOWS, a mainstream mid-budget thriller about Blake Lively fighting a giant Great White shark that was proud of its B-movie aspirations. CRAWL is this year's answer to THE SHALLOWS, with the part of Blake Lively played by Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper (as daughter and father), and the part of the Great White played by a shit-ton of alligators that are menacing the father/daughter duo during a wicked Florida hurricane. Like THE SHALLOWS, CRAWL is essentially the BEST version of those fun creature features you get on the SyFy channel every Saturday. It's not trying to be anything more - it knows what it is, and it delivers the goods the audience has come to see incredibly well.

I think, in general, the horror fandom (myself included) takes director Alexandre Aja a little too much for granted. I've definitely enjoyed a lot of his directorial output (with THE HILLS HAVE EYES and PIRANHA 3D being the clear standouts for me), and appreciate many of the projects he has produced, as well (P2, MANIAC). But for whatever reason, he's never one of the names that leaps to mind when I think about modern masters of horror. Maybe that will finally start changing, because CRAWL is a nice reminder that Aja IS a total pro at crafting exciting sequences and wicked kills, and delivering movies that are as fun as they are brutal.