Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 27, 2022)
Some movies offer disaster tales while others offer horror. With 2022’s They Crawl Beneath, we find a combination of those genres.
To get over his split with girlfriend Gwen (Karlee Eldridge), police officer Danny (Joseph Almani) spends Thanksgiving at his Uncle Bill’s (Michael Paré) ranch in the remote California desert. While Danny fixes up a classic car, a massive earthquake hits.
This finds Danny stuck underneath the automobile. Alone on the ranch, he encounters another problem with a mysterious force emerges from the ground to threaten him.
As noted at the start, Crawl provides a hybrid of sort. Specifically, it comes across as an attempted mix of 127 Hours and Tremors.
On the surface, that sounds intriguing. As executed, though, Crawl offers a clumsy and dull experience.
From the very start, we find ample evidence that the filmmakers lacked much confidence. The opening telegraphs plot points, and music “stings” us to attempt emotion.
There’s a logical reason the filmmakers seem to lack confidence in Crawl: it’s not a good movie. Slow and without real drama, the movie can’t fulfill any of its basic goals.
At its heart, this really should become a basic survival story with the twist that killer critters come after the protagonist. However, probably due to that aforementioned lack of confidence, Crawl feels the need to gussy up the material with unneeded plot points.
Hoo boy, does Crawl ladle out melodrama! To avoid spoilers, I won’t delve into details, but it wastes time with soap opera elements connected to the various supporting characters.
These seem wholly unnecessary – and a distraction, honestly. As Crawl dilly-dallies with cheesy moments, it takes away from the basic tension it should deliver.
Not that it manages to provoke much anxiety or interest in the viewer. Danny’s plight may come packed with fraught potential, but as depicted, we find ourselves in a slow journey to nowhere.
Paré offers some sordid charm as semi-sleazy Uncle Bill, but no one else in the cast can act. Given how much time we spend with Almani, this becomes a problem, and his wooden performance harms the film.
Maybe Crawl would overcome some of these issues as a short film. Not that 88 minutes offers an extended running time, but the movie can’t fill that space in a satisfactory manner.
That said, given the unfulfilling nature of most aspects on display here, I can’t feel confident a 20-minute Crawl would fare any better. Despite a decent premise, this becomes a forgettable product.