It’s well known that I base a lot of expectations on a video cover and a plot drop. I know we’re not supposed to, but a good movie cover hints towards a lot of good things to come. In the case of “Crawl”, it’s plot drop hinted of a seedy bar owner, a Croation hitman and hostages and hijinks, all with a “humorous chain of events”. It’s listed as a crime thriller, so naturally, I was curious. As it turns out, “Crawl” is far from anything thrilling.
Pacing in films such as these is crucial, a point in which this movie missed the mark totally. In the case of a movie such as “No Country for Old Man”, a slow pace works well because you’re dealing with a movie that relies heavily on its characters. For “Crawl”, it feels like the director might have gone after some of the key elements that made the former movie more interesting, but failed to give us any characters that were interesting in the slightest.
Really, as I write this, I realize that the pace of “Crawl” wasn’t at all the problem. It’s a movie filled with one dimensional characters that simply aren’t given much to do. Nor are they given any real substance.
First we’re introduced to Marilyn, our damsel in distress. We get a quick blast of back story for Marilyn; we know she’s about to get engaged. We know the lady giving her a ride home from the bar wants her to have a good night for her engagement. Once Marilyn arrives home and the second act begins, she doesn’t have much to work with. All she does is stalk about her house wide eyed, then spends the rest of the film tied to a chair. No reason to connect with her, no reason to sympathize. She’s just kind of there. The same goes for her soon to be fiance. I’d give his name, but I already forgot it. We’re introduced to him through a mere flash back so that and a voice message. We have no insight to the character whatsoever. When the plot of the film over takes him, we barely know who he is. So it’s easy to write him off and forget.
Perhaps the biggest crime for “Crawl”, comes with it’s villains. A solid crime thriller relies heavily on its bad guys and here, they are more of the one dimensional type. Our seedy bar owner is mostly seedy because he snorts a bit of coke and hired this hitman. He also looks like he could use a shower. He also likes to spank the other waitress, for no reason at all. (This scene came completely out of nowhere.) Otherwise, he’s just bland. Our Croation Hitman, the mysterious man that our entire plot hinges upon…is flat out dull. He stalks around silently, everything he does wooden and slow. His face isn’t menacing in the slightest, nor is he imposing. He just seems like an old Croation stomping about and not in a hurry to get anywhere. It really took any of the “thrill” out of the thriller.
It’s a shame, because I think director Paul China puts together a nice looking film. It’s shot very well and has it’s on distinct look and atmosphere. There’s just some serious fault with characters that needs to be addressed.