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ROGER THOMAS FILM REVIEW: ‘Crawl’: A natural thriller

When I was 13 in the summer of 1975, “Jaws” was all the rage. Almost everyone saw it. Filmmakers tried to find other films that would have the equal box office the shark movie did.

Nothing else was that big that year, but I kept hoping.

Roger Thomas

A year later there was a film about a rampaging grizzly bear. The film’s title was simply “Grizzly.” I was 14 when it opened and I had no taste in films those days. I thought “Grizzly” was almost as good as “Jaws.”

I have had a long life shaping my taste in films, the horrid ones and the great — and everything in between.

This year’s “Crawl” has many characteristics of “Grizzly,” but in the end, “Crawl” is a far better film. Not a masterpiece, but it mostly works for what it is — a nature thriller.

It is a film with many thrillers and chillers. However, the film does not have supernatural thrills.

In fact, I guess, everything in the film could actually happen. Maybe unlikely, but possible. And that is one of the best traits of the film.

There are no zombies, ghosts or creatures from another world, nor does the film have creatures that are created in a lab or monsters that become 10 sizes beyond their natural situation.

We all know that those things happen in the movies because the characters on the screen are infected with radioactive elements. But there is none of that is in this film.

One other thing I wondered as I watched the movie was a simple one. I wondered about those creatures on the screen, created for the thrills of the audience. My question was: “Are those creatures on the screen, are they supposed to be alligators or crocodile?”

I have been told the difference many times, but this head of mine can’t keep everything up here.

So I did some research and the scaled creatures in this film are alligators. That is good to know, especially in case you get stuck in a house of gators.

The plot of “Crawl” is simple. The characters are facing a heavy storm. When a storm comes up and it might be a hurricane, a young woman named Haley seeks to find her father and get both of them to safety.

The two main actors are Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper.

There was one other thought that bothered me.

In most of the shots of the alligators, the creatures looked like the animals were with the humans. However there were a few shots, three to five at the most, when the alligators looked false. I am not smart enough to know why sometimes the alligators looked more real than others, but I witnessed it.

For those moments I lost my reality of the film, but I eventually got it back.

We, in the audience, have to suspend our animation all the time and we can do it well. The alligators captured my imagination at least 80 percent of the time.

“Crawl” is not a great film. But it worked well for what it was.

There were jolts in the audience and I was one of those who jolted a few times.

Even this old film critic can get scared sometimes.

The film had the perfect timing. At 87 minutes, the film does not get tiresome or in the words of my mother about a guest, “They did not overstay their welcome.”

“Crawl” did not “Overstay its welcome.”

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.