Crawl (18)

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Review byMatthew Turner22/02/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 80 mins

Enjoyably trashy Australian thriller enlivened by stylish direction, an effectively sparse script and a trio of strong performances from Georgina Haig, Paul Holmes and George Shevstov.

What's it all about?
Directed by Paul China, Crawl is set in Australia and stars Georgina Haig as waitress Marilyn Burns (a reference to the star of the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre), who gets off work early and heads to her house in order to wait for her boyfriend Travis, who she suspects is intending to propose to her that night. Meanwhile, Marilyn's seedy bar-owner-slash-loan shark boss Slim (Paul Holmes) hires a mysterious, cowboy-hatted Croatian hitman (George Shevstov) to kill one of his debtors.

With the job completed, the Croatian attempts to leave town, only to run down Travis on the road and severely injure him. Finding Travis' details, the Croatian makes his way to his house, where he ends up taking a terrified Marilyn hostage. Meanwhile, Slim discovers that the Croatian intended to double cross him and sets off in pursuit.

The Good
If the set-up sounds familiar, it's because the film has so many elements in common with the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple that it might as well be a remake. The main difference is the script, which, aside from some enjoyably sleazy business with Slim (in particular a wholly gratuitous spanking scene that gives the film its name), is largely dialogue-free. This is particularly effective in the stalking scenes in the second half of the film (there are echoes, too, of Ti West's The House of the Devil), while Shevstov's performance is all the more creepy for being so taciturn.

Paul China's stylish direction generates an effectively tense atmosphere, heightened by an admirably sparse soundtrack that, for once, doesn't telegraph every shock moment. In addition, Haig is excellent as the understandably bewildered Marilyn, who proves to have more fight in her than the Croatian expects, while Holmes is brilliantly scuzzy as Slim; his aforementioned spanking scene with Lauren Dillon (as fellow waitress Holly) is a definite highlight and the sort of thing cult film reputations are built on.

The Bad
That's not to say the film doesn't have its fair share of flaws. The main problem is that the Croatian's motivations are never really explained, which is okay up to a point (we don't really need to know why he's double crossing Slim, for example), but is occasionally frustrating, most notably in the fact that it's not exactly clear why he went to Travis' house in the first place. Similarly, it seems that Travis' car has broken down just a short distance from his house, so it's not clear why he didn't just walk home, especially given his intentions.

Worth seeing?
Despite a couple of logic problems, Crawl is an enjoyably sweaty Australian thriller that's both sleazy and suspenseful in equal measure. Worth seeing.

Film Trailer

Crawl (18)
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Content updated: 18/09/2018 14:57

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