Friday, 31 July 2015

Crawl Or Die

I first heard about Crawl Or Die early this year when I read about it in Starburst magazine and I thought it sounded cool, yeah the initial set up may sound familiar, an elite group of solders are tasked with transporting the last fertile human to a safe place, but despite what could be seen as a stock set up that not what this film is about.  This is what I like to call a 'night in hell' film, with the characters stuck in the most horrible situation and having to fight their way out.  And in this film, hell is an underground tunnel system where our characters must crawl through pipes of ever decreasing size while been chased by a bloodthirsty monster.  When I first read that it really peaked my interest!

Originally titles Crawl Bitch Crawl, a better title but not exactly supermarket DVD section friendly, Crawl Or Die is the debut feature from Oklahoma Ward and came out in 2014. The film recently premiered on the Horror Channel here in the UK so I jumped at the chance to finally see it, after hearing both good and bad opinions of the film online I went in thinking I would either love or hate this film and I'm happy to say I loved it! That been said I don't know if I will sit though it again for a long long time, I'll explain why in a few paragraphs.

We get a few hints into what this world is like, space travel has been achieved, cryogenic sleep also has, a virus has spread through the human race making almost every woman infertile and what ever this virus is there seems to be no cure so they have devised a plan to start up again on a new planet; Earth-2. This is all given to us in a flash back of the soldiers briefing, one of only a few scenes with substantial dialogue, for most the rest of the film characters remain silent, the soldiers at the beginning give orders and examine the situation but there is no room for chit chat here, though latter on we do get small scenes of characters talking.

The creature is an interesting design, people have already noted it has some similarities to the Xenomorph from the Alien franchise, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't see that but it also has many other elements like large spider legs, big clawed hands, etc.  It seems more like a miss match of many things especially insects, and how it drags itself through the tunnels chasing after our characters does help to set it apart from other movie monsters.  Though I do understand why some see it as been a bit too close to the Xenomorph, I personally feel it's different enough to set itself apart.

Special props have to be given to lead actress Nicole Alonso as Tank, a no nonsense badass with a blond mohawk and big black boots, she does great with the material. At first she lets little to no emotion show and pushes through the situation with tough determination, and while she remains tough and determined we see her defences getting chipped away through the film, little moments like when she first see a comrade killed by the creature and there is a short few seconds where you can see the fear in her eyes, almost taking over, but it doesn’t. There are also large portions of the film where Alonso is acting alone but she has enough skill to keep you invested in her character.  Tank keeps going even as fear and anger build inside her and I rooted for her through out the film.

Watching horror films I have felt scared many times, tense just as many , suspense has held me on the edge of my seat and had me hiding behind the sofa, and sometimes I have been left feeling unsettled by a film, this is one of those films. The reason I said I may not watch this again for a long time is because in the latter half as Tank found herself in smaller and smaller pipes and rooms I genuinely felt unsettles and uncomfortable, my stomach was clenching up in knots as I felt like I was in those tunnels with her. Not a pleasant feeling, and though I wanted to reach over and turn the TV off I couldn't, I was already drawn in and had to see how this was going to end.

Oklahoma Ward shows here that he already has major skills, he clearly has a keen eye for cinematography and editing.  And while the film still has the look and feel of low budget independence (not a bad thing) you can see the skill of the film maker and his team.  I look forward to seeing what Ward will do in the future.

I really enjoyed this film though I can understand why other people may not, to be honest I wasn't as sure on it at first but by the half way point I was hooked.  I've already heard some people complain about the lack of back story such as where the creature came from, who built these tunnels and why?  But really I didn't find these to be questions that needed answering, at least not in this film.  The film is about this event, this one night in hell and I feel that taking time to go into these details would have distracted from that, we are given enough to know there is a larger world out there and what it is about but that isn't the focus of this story, nor should it have been, it's this event and this story we are been told.  Ward has stated that this is the first film in a trilogy and while I'm usually the first to role my eyes when I hear the words 'maybe they are saving it for later' in reference to something not fully developed in a pice of media, I think the sequels are the place to answer these questions and explore this world more, and if that is where they go I look forward to seeing it.

Give this one a go guys, it's fun, scary and can punch you right in the gut, but it has been nicknamed 'The Most Claustrophobic Movie Ever Made' for a reason, you have been warned.

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