Film Title: Crawl
Release Date: 2019
Runtime: 87 minutes
Region Coding: Region A
Audio Formats: DTS- HD Master Audio 7.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 2.35:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 10/15/19
Director: Alexandre Aja
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper, Morfydd Clark
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Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom
“Crawl” was a 2019 film that blended genres action, drama, and horror. The film was directed by Alexandre Aja, best known for directing films such as The 9th Life of Louis Drax (2016), Horns (2013), Piranha 3D (2010), Mirrors (2008), and The Hills Have Eyes (2006) remake. Aja also co-wrote the screenplay and produced the remake of Maniac (2012) as well as P2 (2007). The screenplay here was written by Michael Rasmussen and Shawn Rasmussen. The Rasmussen brothers have also written the screenplays to films such as The Inhabitants (2015), Dark Feed (2013), and The Ward (2010).
This movie was executive produced by the legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi. Raimi is best known originally for directing films like The Evil Dead (1981), Army of Darkness (1992), as well as Spider-Man (2002), and its two sequels – to just name a few. However, more recently Raimi has become known for his work as a producer on films like The Grudge (2004) remake, 30 Days of Night (2007), the reboot of Evil Dead (2013), and Don’t Breathe (2016).
The story takes place in Florida and involves a young woman, currently competing with her school’s swim team, named “Hayley” (Kaya Socodelario). As she’s in the middle of a competition, we see in an opening flashback that she has memories of her father “Dave” (Barry Pepper) always being supportive of her swimming on a competitive level even when she was just a young girl. She gets back to the locker room after her swim competition and receives a video chat from her sister “Beth” (Morfydd Clark). Beth reminds Hayley that there’s a category 5 hurricane literally approaching and that she can’t get in contact with there father. The sister is upset that maybe something has happened to their father and asks if Hayley will run and check on him. Hayley agrees to go check in on her father and drives through one absolute hell of a storm, bypassing even a roadblock, to get to her father.
It’s no spoiler to tell you that Hayley manages to find her father in their old home, now flooded by water. It’s in the crawl space (hence the title) where she finds him along with two rather large alligators. Her father has been injured and it’s up to her to help rescue him, as well as stay alive. That’s about as far as I can go here with the story to actually avoid dishing out any spoilers. Just know that it’s one very suspenseful film and that there’s a genuine bond between the daughter and her supportive father. This film also pushes the limits of things in terms of what’s plausible but, then again, that’s what Hollywood is known for. That’s never stopped a film from being frightening.
The film is reported to have had a budget of 13.5 million and ending up grossing 90.3 million (worldwide) at the box office. According to IMDb trivia: “This movie was inspired by a true alligator event from Hurricane Florence.” You can see how something like this could possibly happen, as there have been numerous cases of alligators ending up in homes after category 4 or higher hurricanes in Florida. Just remember “apex predator, all day.” Which is a very fitting line [of dialogue] for the film’s protagonist to be reflective upon, her fathering telling her, from the very beginning. FYI: an alligator just so happens to be an apex predator.
Movie Rating: 4 (out of 5)
“Crawl” makes its debut on Blu-ray Disc in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, just as how it was presented during its theatrical run. The movie was shot digitally using the Arri Alexa Mini camera, according to IMDb. There is no definite information on what resolution it was shot in nor whether it received a 2K or 4K digital intermediate master. I’m going to guess, having seen the film also in 4K (digitally as I’ll discuss below) that it was a 2K DI (digital intermediate).
This is very impressive in terms of video quality, with a great amount of detail to be found in each and every shot – especially in closeups. The black level is perfectly solid, helping the darker scenes be able to really help deliver some suspense along with scares. The color palette holds a few vibrant colors at times, although admittedly it remains pretty much subdued (for the most part) to fit the visual style. The flesh tones do come across as accurate. The special effects here from the hurricane and especially that of the alligators prove to be very convincing and downright terrifying.
Crawl on Blu-ray has a really dignified video presentation. I do honestly have to admit that I obviously found the digital 4K (with HDR) version included on iTunes to be slightly more appealing – for obvious reasons. Speaking of which, if you’re on a 4K display and have an Apple TV 4K, you might want to give that a viewing after the HD (high def) presentation found on the Blu-ray. It’s not a huge improvement but it’s still nice to get high dynamic range over there with that version.
Its digital source material makes for some formidable visuals, along with the CG special effects that blended together nicely. That all being said, “Crawl” on Blu-ray earns a very nice 4.5 rating for video quality.
Video Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Audio here, on the Blu-ray debut of “Crawl” comes in the form of DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio. This has one very impressive mix that is sure to creep you out and keep you filled with suspense as much as the film itself will. There’s a great use of the rear channels and subwoofer to help drive the action and intensify the scares. Dialogue is mixed perfectly in the center channel and never once gets overwhelmed by any of the action or the music.
The majority of the sound effects and music here get mostly mixed into the front left and right channels speakers. However, don’t be too startled when the rear channels get used to almost make you feel surrounded (pun intended) like the characters in the film. The sound of thunder, from the very opening of the film and throughout, gets nicely mixed into the rear channels and comes with a nice amount of bass. This 7.1 mix makes pretty damn good use of the surround here, from start to finish. Scenes involving the hurricane come across very intense and pretty disturbing, with the high force winds roaring all throughout the speakers and even making the subwoofer give your room a bit of a shake.
“Crawl” on Blu-ray earns itself a very impressive 4.5 rating for the audio quality of its lossless 7.1 surround sound mix and in turn, does the film justice.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Bonus materials on this release, all presented in HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound, include the following:
- A Digital Code (copy) of the film is included which can be redeemed online with services such as iTunes, VUDU, and Fandango. It’s worth noting that if you choose to redeem on Apple’s iTunes service you will get the film in 4K with HDR (in Dolby Vision and HDR10) with a 5.1 mix. VUDU, however, will only give you an “HDX” (1080p HD) version of the film on its service. I didn’t opt for Fandango, so I don’t know if it has a 4K version or HD. Feel free to let me know (via contact) if you know.
- A DVD of the film is included. This is presented with the same 2.35:1 aspect ratio in SD (standard definition) and features Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound.
- A 3-Month Trial to streaming service Shudder is included. This is a very cool thing to see included, as it’s something horror fans will really enjoy – if they aren’t already a subscriber to the online horror streaming services.
- Alternate Opening (4:49 – HD) is presented as a motion comic. There’s an optional “Intro to Alternate Opening” (0:25 – HD) included as well. The intro features the director, Alexandre Aja, explaining things regarding the scene (here in motion comic form). The alternate opening motion comic has some beautiful artwork (similar to a graphic novel) and proves to be enjoyable. We learn here the name of the hurricane, which I won’t name – to let you find out for yourself.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (6:03 – HD) include three total.
- “Beneath Crawl“ (28:05 – HD) serves as a “making of” featurette. This features lots of on-set footage as well as interviews with Alexandre Aja (director/producer), Sam Raimi (producer), Craig Flores (producer), Shawn Rasmussen (screenwriter), Michael Rasmussen (screenwriter), Barry Pepper (“Dave”), Kaya Scodelario (“Haley”), Alan Gilmore (production designer), Gareth Wingrove (special effects supervisor), Maxime Alexandre (director of photography), Justin Bursch (executive producer/UPM), and Christopher Landry (first assistant director). Sam Raimi seems to have a lot of respect for the director here, Alexandre Aja. He reveals that he wrote him a letter over a decade ago trying to get him to direct a film he was producing. And yes, for the haters out there, it’s worth noting that Sam Raimi admits: “it’s an insane scenario that really could happen.” He’s also a fan of the film, you can tell. This featurette proves to be very informative and entertaining. Fans of the film will definitely enjoy this. It’s really kind of funny that they shot this in Belgrade, Serbia of all places – considering that the film is set in Florida.
- “Category 5 Gators: The VFX of Crawl“ (11:37 – HD) focuses on the special effects and CG (computer-generated) visual effects used in the film for the alligators. Here you’ll get to see the different shots involving the gators throughout the original footage and in stages of post-production visual effects added to create them. There are interviews here with Alexandre Aja (director/producer), Keith Kolder (visual effects supervisor, RodeoFX), Sam Raimi (producer), Craig Flores (producer), Thomas Montminy-Brodeur (visual effects supervisor, RodeoFX), and Stéphane Rioux (compositing supervisor, RodeoFX). It’s worth noting that a few practical gators were made to be used in a few scenes.
- “Alligator Attacks” (1:32 – HD) is comprised of nothing but the attacks by alligators in the film. This is some pretty damn dark stuff, but I’m sure someone out there will enjoy this mashup. That said, I am not going to discuss this any further, as it contains spoilers.
Overall, the bonus materials here aren’t too bad. You get a digital copy of the film (in 4K depending if you choose iTunes), a DVD, a 3-month trial to streaming service Shudder, an alternate opening motion comic (with optional intro), and over 45 minutes of extras in the form of deleted & extended scenes and featurettes.
Bonus Materials Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)
“Crawl” much like Jaws or the original Piranha that makes you afraid to be in the water all over again. The monsters (alligators) here are very convincing even being CG (computer-generated). Getting the director who did Piranha‘s remake (Piranha 3D) to do this [Alexandre Aja] proved to be a perfect choice. This film isn’t anywhere near as monumental as something like Jaws, by any means, but it does have a lot of heart to it.
It’s a shame that we didn’t get a 4K UHD Blu-ray release of this film, but it’s still an impressive Blu-ray release. It’s also worth noting that the digital copy of the film (you get included) is actually presented in 4K with HDR (in HDR10 AND Dolby Vision) on services like Apple’s iTunes. However, the digital copy you get on the service Vudu is only in HD.
The video presentation here is very detailed, many thanks to being shot digitally and looks great. The audio presentation of the 7.1 lossless surround mix is downright intense as all hell at times and proves to be very fitting to help set the creepy vibes. It’s an overall excellent presentation in terms of both video and audio quality.
The bonus materials here prove to be cool, first in the sense that you get a 4K version of the film digitally (via iTunes, at least) and also a 3-month trial for the streaming service Shudder. There’s an exclusive motion comic that depicts an alternate opening to the film, some deleted & extended scenes, and three featurettes. There’s probably enough there to keep the viewer happy for a short bit after they’ve finished watching the film.
In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
2.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials
A Good Film / Excellent Presentation