Rated 4.0

Alligators get their due as nasty reptilian cinematic monsters with Crawl, the biggest surprise so far this summer when it comes to simply having a damn good time at the movies. It puts that other monster reptile movie, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, to shame. Southern Florida is getting walloped by a hurricane, and collegiate swimmer Haley (Kaya Scodelario of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) hasn’t heard from her dad (Barry Pepper) as the situation grows into a Category 5. Against foreboding radio warnings, Haley drives to her old family home in an attempt to locate her wayward poppa and put other family members’ minds at ease. With the family dog tagging along (of course), Haley ventures into the basement/crawlspace, where dad is unconscious with a suspicious wound. We’re not too far into the movie when the alligator baddies are introduced, and these toothy demons are taking the rising waters as an excuse to swim around and party on human flesh. From the first gator introduction to the final frame, Crawl aims to kick your butt with all out horror thrills, with plenty of hurricane terror mixed in for good measure. The vast majority of the film takes place in the house, and huge credit goes to director Alexandre Aja and his production team for making the basement a fun place for people to get rolled by an alligator. The alligators, mostly CGI, are terrific movie beasties, entirely convincing whether above or below water. Unlike Jaws, Aja doesn’t hide his monsters for most of the movie. They show up early on, and these bastards aren’t going away.