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Friday, June 19, 2020

‘Crawl’ and the Apex Bond Between Daughter and Father [Father’s Day]

Almost a full year after making waves at the box office, Alexandre Aja’s Crawl is now available to stream on Hulu and Prime Video. It’s just in time for Father’s Day. Considering the plot centers around a father and daughter trying to survive both a Category 5 hurricane and territorial alligators that have trapped them in a flooded house, it’s the ideal feature to watch with dad this weekend. That’s not a mere recommendation, but perhaps a hard suggestion. Nearly a year ago, I took my dad to see Crawl in theaters, and the father-daughter relationship in the film holds a more profound, different context now then it did then. One that I couldn’t have anticipated.

Crawl functions as a lean, mean thriller, delivering white-knuckle intensity and Aja’s trademark brand of brutal suspense. Its simplistic plot doesn’t offer much depth, but it doesn’t need to here. Kaya Scodelario stars as Haley, a young woman that heads into a hurricane to retrieve her father, Dave (Barry Pepper). She barely has enough time to find him injured in the crawlspace underneath his house before the alligators trap them in place, and the hurricane’s rising floodwaters cause time to be of the essence. It’s a survival thriller heavy on intense action sequences, so not much time is wasted expanding the characters. The audience is given enough to know that Haley and Dave have been estranged, that Haley’s an avid, competitive swimmer once coached by dad, and that dad might be a bit isolated and depressed in the wake of family strife. Through their fight to make it out alive, daughter and dad realize what’s important; each other. 

It’s earnest, and perhaps overly sweet. Especially when dad encourages his daughter to fight, to channel her competitiveness into a will to survive, and it results in cheesy dialogue lines like Haley affirming, “Apex predator all day, baby!” Even in the theater, amidst the pulse-pounding thrills, that line reads silly. Between the high-octane thrills and the compelling performances by Scodelario and Pepper, though, these minor quibbles don’t ultimately detract from the film. Not enough to reduce enjoyment, anyway, at least not for me. It likely helped that it was easy to relate to Haley, at least in terms of the role reversal between a parent and their adult child. Dave maybe her father, but Haley is the one parenting him for much of the runtime. At some point in your adult life, you start to recognize that same shift in the relationship dynamic. You slowly realize you’re the one making sure they’re doing well, that they’re healthy, and scolding if they’re not—all of which to say, that it was easy to connect with Haley.

My dad loved the movie. That jump scare where the tree crashes through the window? He jumped so high, and it’d take a lot to get a visible reaction out of him. He was on the edge of his seat during our theatrical experience and was downright giddy when the credits rolled. All of that was high praise coming from him, a stoic, retired Army veteran who usually conveyed that he liked a movie with, “it’s ok.” So, taking my dad to see a film featuring a grown daughter fight off alligators with her father, and for him to have an evident blast watching it, made for a personal movie highlight of the year.

Crawl wasn’t the last movie I’d take my dad to see, but it was the final one he thoroughly enjoyed. On Thanksgiving, he fell violently, extremely ill. A few short weeks later, a biopsy revealed he had stage four pancreatic cancer that caught us all off guard. By the beginning of this year, he was gone after a swift, ugly, and painful battle that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. 

What was once a fond memory of giving my dad a fun movie-going experience became something more meaningful with the realization that it was the last father-daughter outing untainted by cancer. The last time I got to see him enjoy himself without the immense physical pain that he would endure just a handful of months later. I’ll be forever grateful for that. It can be all too easy to write off the value of movies as escapism, but escapism can be crucial. 

Crawl excels at what it set out to accomplish, which is to keep you breathless for its brisk runtime. An earnest father-daughter bond grounds it. One that I hadn’t given a whole lot of thought to initially until my own life experiences reframed it. On a thematic and personal level, Aja’s creature feature makes for the perfect movie to watch with dad on Father’s Day. There’s the familiar heartfelt relationship at the center, sure, but mostly Crawl ensures a good time. That’s what Father’s Day should be all about- making good memories with dad. Even if you don’t watch Crawl with dad, or your children for that matter, do something. Keep making memories while you can. 



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/editorials/3620667/crawl-apex-bond-daughter-father-fathers-day/

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