I find it ironic that I am writing a movie review about alligators attacking people during a category 5 hurricane while I am watching the local news coverage tracking Tropical Storm Barry as it heads here for New Orleans. Because of the real life situation, locals may feel like staying away from Crawl, the new horror thriller from director Alexandre Aja (The Hills Have Eyes remake), but it's actually perfect escapist entertainment - a suspenseful, old-fashioned, fight for survival creature feature with fairly good computer generated alligators as well as excellent performances by the two leads.
College student Haley (Kaya Scodelario) goes to her childhood house to find her estranged father (Barry Pepper) who has been missing - and a seriously bad hurricane is approaching. She finds him unconscious and wounded in a crawl space under the house, and down there with them are a couple of hungry gators. So, Haley's years as a competitive swimmer will be put to the test.
There have been similar movies like this in recent years, like the not-bad Burning Bright (2010) about a young woman and an autistic boy trapped in a house with a tiger during a hurricane, or the garbage Bait 3D (2012) about people trapped in a flooded supermarket with sharks after a tsunami.
Unlike Bait, Crawl utilizes its setting well. As Haley and her dad get into the house and up the stairs, the gators follow. There is a great scene with Haley cornered in a bath tub with a sliding glass door as a gator tries to make her its lunch. Crawl can be a little silly at times, like dad's pep talks to his daughter while they plan how to evade the alligators. The movie works best in the action scenes, which are extremely well executed. Crawl is a compact (87-minutes) and efficient exercise in suspense, and it delivers lots of alligator action.