2011 suspense/thriller Film, Crawl
Written and Ddirected by Paul Chin
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Crawl (2011) | Trailer
"A sizzling visual experience -- beautifully framed and expertly shot" - Chris and Phil Present.
"Will leave you speechless" - Screen Invasion.
***/5 Reviewed by: Jim Napier
The film is set in a rural Australian town, and revolves around a local bar owner has hired a stranger (Shevtsov) to murder someone that owes him money. The murder goes off without a hitch, but a planned double-cross of the bar owner backfires. As a result an innocent waitress (Haig) to be held hostage. This causes a suspenseful and gruesome chain of events to occur, all building up to a climax you have to see to believe.
Crawl is indie horror at it's best! It is the perfect example of a slow burn, it starts off at a snails pace but has some brutal moments that will leave you speechless.
If you are not a fan of slow pacing, then Crawl may not be for you. I like movies that have a slow burn, so I enjoyed it.
Crawl is the perfect example of a slow burn, it starts off at a snails pace but has some brutal moments that will leave you speechless. If you are a fan of any movie from the Coen Brothers, you will enjoy Crawl. It felt like a blend of No Country for Old Men and Blood Simple. Just like those films, Crawl has some cool characters.
The character development is very minimal, but that is likely due to the fact that there are not many lines in the film. Crawl is by no means a silent film, but it does have a lot of scenes with only the score playing. Speaking of the music, the score will creep you out just like John Williams’ Jaws score does. The music is very ominous and adds to the tension on the screen.
The cast is solid for an indie, with Haig putting in a great performance as the waitress. Shevtsov is super creepy as The Stranger. He spends most of his scenes silent, with a solid gaze. He is also tall and lanky and seems out of place wearing his Western attire. There are some great scenes where his character is moving along at a slow pace behind his prey that are wonderfully shot. I enjoyed China’s camera angles and tight shots in various scenes.
Crawl is one indie horror that you should not miss. It is the perfect film to watch this weekend on Amazon. If you have already seen this movie, sound off in the comments below.
Can you believe that in 2019 another movie with the same name was released? The time the story line is when a massive hurricane hits a Florida town, the female lead, young Haley ignores the evacuation orders to search for her missing father, Dave. After finding him gravely injured in their family home, the two of them become trapped by the rapidly encroaching floodwaters. With the storm strengthening, Haley and Dave discover an even greater threat than the rising water level from a relentless attack from a pack of gigantic alligators. Perhaps that's where the name Crawl comes from. Well, I will say the critics and audience from RottenTomatoes liked it better than the 2011 Crawl giving it respectively 83%/ 75% versus the creaming the 2011 movie received 63%/19%.
I watched both the films back to back one night at the start of the Covid pandemic when everything was in shut down mode and we were all quarantining at home listening to the ambulance sirens screaming through the streets in NYC. I watched a lot of movies during those early days. My brothers, friends and I would critique the films via facebook and then Zoom meetings. When we started to get film overload, one of my brothers suggested trying playing at several different online casino sites that he visits. He suggested several and sent me links to an affiliate online casino site that has reviews and posts weekly promos for their featured casinos. Miami Club Casino was my brother's favorite, perhaps because he lives in Florida. I check it out on Online-Casino-Party.co and decided to sign up. Miami Club Casino offers a game selection with a great library boasting over 170 exclusive, high quality online casino games from Wager Gaming Software, one of the big gaming software companies that has a good reputation. Players will find all their favorite slot games: 3 reel, 3-reel slots bonus, 5-reel, 5-reel slots bonus,7-reel video slots, progressive slots, traditional slots, and slots tournaments. Apple users, like myself, can still enjoy Miami Club Casino by choosing the Instant Play, Flash Casino. I was psyched. STOP right there. I turns out that New York State prohibits online gambling and I was turned down because my IP was in NYS. Bummer. I ended up having to play demo games instead starting with $3000 and automatically replenished with another $3,000, if you run out. You can go crazy with your bets since you will never lose any money. Of course when you win you can't collect it either. I retreated to watching movies again. A great bunch of horror films came out in 2021, even with the pandemic. Rotten Tomatoes favorite was My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To, followed by The Boy Behind the Door, SLAXX, and Lucky. Check them out, if you're into this genre.
"A solid calling card for the China Brothers" - DVD Active.
Marilyn (Georgina Haig) is waiting for her boyfriend Travis to come home from a trip to propose to her but when there’s a hitman in town, who accidentally runs Travis down in a freak car accident, things take a turn for the worst. The Croatian hitman, decides to cover his tracks after checking Travis’s I.D. and heads to Marilyn’s home in the middle of nowhere, where she waits alone…
Crawl is slow moving, largely silent and all about tension. Stealing largely from the thrillers of old, The China brothers director/producer team opt for the classic approach to their small tale of Australian terror. Most of their minimal cast hold every scene they are in and their subtle performances sell any given situation, which is no easy task considering the fact most scenes are relativity dialogue free and more about mood.
The gore is kept to a minimal and the straight forward task of having a killer in your house is played out well with beats spread out well to generate the desired “don’t go in there” responses from the audience. There’s the odd tacked on scene around the edges, mainly in the local bar where most of the additional, almost comedic scenes are wholly unnecessary even if they are entertaining enough.
Crawl winds up being a solid calling card for the China brothers. It’s far from exceptional but it shows a solid understanding of how to do a modern horror playing by the classic rules and they squeeze a fair bit out of their cast’s performances, even with the minimalist set up.
Well this presentation really was really quite impressive. We are immediately shown the bright, warm palette of colours and it’s all backed up with plenty of rich detail and wonderful textures. As we head into the night, the blacks are nice and deep, adding more depth to the image and light sourcing is the final notch to make this an all round great looking disc. Edges are nice and sharp, the image is wonderfully clean and the relativity low budget of this independent film is barely felt at all as the look of the film is very polished and professional.
Crawl is a quiet film and it does quite very well indeed. Crickets chirping can somehow add tension and the Jaws-seq dread filled score knows exactly the right pace to build up to the big scares. Dialogue is crisp and strong and when the track demands it, the punchy raw power of elements work wonders. Gunshots, impacts, door slams, they all ramp up the volume in all the right horror fueled places and come with a real presence in the track. This is all very subtle and well though out and it works very well here indeed.
The commentary with Alan Jones along with director/producer team Paul and Ben China is largely about the twin brothers road to filmmaking but also offers up quite a lot about the film’s production. Alan Jones knows his stuff, so asks all the right questions at all the right times and the brothers are clear and enthusiastic about their responses. This is a solid track with plenty of detail.
‘Frightfest Interviews’ (12:00 HD) largely repeats a lot of the information on the commentary tracks with the two brothers talking about their background, their influences and the film's production. There’s also a ‘Cast Interviews’ (04:45 HD) collection but it’s not really long enough to get the goods out of. Last up, there’s the film’s trailer.
Crawl was a good horror/thriller if you like your tension drawn out at every given turn. The girl alone in a house set up is classic stuff but still plays out with a fresh feel to events and the only real downside is somewhere in the middle of the film there’s a bit of a lag due to the need to involve other players in the small Australian town. The disc looks and sounds great, has a good commentary and a few basic interview selections. This is a good option for a small scale late night horror selection because it does the basics well but still manages to create its own personality in the wide, wide world of low budget horror.
"Paul China's stylish direction generates an effectively tense atmosphere" - View Auckland.
"Tense atmosphere and impressive style" - Movie Muser
Reviewer: Tim Isaac | www.moviemuser.co.uk/
A mysterious Croatian man (George Shevtsov) arrives in a small Aussie town and shoots a local garage owner. He's done it on the orders of the seedy bar owner Slim (Paul Holmes), who wanted the mechanic dead over a business deal gone bad.
Then there's barmaid Marilyn (Georgina Haig), who heads home to wait for the return of her boyfriend, Tristan, who she is convinced is going to propose to her (Marilyn's obviously never been in a movie before, as talking about how you're expecting something good to happen is pretty much a guarantee it'll all go pear-shaped).
It proves a long wait, because as the Croatian man heads out of town he accidentally mows Tristan down with his car, which sets off a chain of events that results in Marilyn being held hostage in her house, Slim thinking he's been double-crossed and the hit man attempting to sort out the mess he's created.
Writer/director Paul China and his producer twin brother Ben originate from the UK but have spent the last few years in Australia. However, their main influences undoubtedly come from the US. This is a movie that wears its love of the Coen Brothers and David Lynch loud and proud, with a dose of Hitchcockian, Bernard Herrmann style music thrown in for good measure. With many film this type of homage merely highlights how far from the masters the movie is, but the China brothers actually understand what makes the films they love tick. They may not yet have reached the top level yet, but the nods to everything from Blood Simple to Blue Velvet aren't merely to try and look cool, they serve the movie in creating a strange, unsettled atmosphere of creeping menace.
While there are a few slightly cheap, cheesy moments, these are more than counterbalanced by some extremely well-put-together sequences, which use sound and clever editing to tell the story in ways that keep the viewer on the edge of their seat.
It's not the most complex of tales and there's the occasional sensation that things are on the edge of getting very silly, but with a tense atmosphere, some gruesomely effective scenes and a few moments of impressive style, it's more good than bad. The best part of the movie is indisputably the Croatian, a man of few words who power through movie with no past or explanation. He seems utterly unflappable and never out of control, while remaining completely mysterious and unpredictable.
It may not be perfect, but Crawl is an impressive debut for a filmmaker who understands the movies in a way that promises much for the future.
Overall Verdict: Despite a few flaws, Crawl is a tense, creepy affair with a love of Lynch and the Coen Brothers that is more than skin deep.
Frightfest Interview With Paul and Ben China
"Stylishly atmospheric" - Contact Music.
Rich Cline | www.contactmusic.com/
Cast & Crew
Director : Paul China
Producer : Brian J. Breheny, Benjamin China,
Screenwriter : Paul China
Starring : George Shevtsov, Georgina Haig, Paul Holmes, Lauren Dillon, Catherine Miller, Lynda Stoner, Paul Bryant, John Rees-Osborne,
Packed with references to classic horror thrillers, this Australian film is a gimmicky freak-out that keeps our pulses racing even if it never really gets under the skin. The story may be rather simplistic and contrived, but director China keeps everything so stylishly atmospheric that we can't take our eyes off the screen. Even if we have to watch some chillingly grisly moments through our fingers.
It's set in a small town where Marilyn (Haig) works in a seedy bar. Her sleazy boss Slim (Holmes) has hired a Croatian cowboy hitman (Shevtsov) to settle a debt with an old friend, but on one fateful night things take a very dark twist. On his way to see Slim, the cowboy stumbles into the romantic evening Marilyn is planning with her soon-to-be fiancee (Barclay). And in her rambling, isolated home, Marilyn becomes a pawn trapped in the middle of both Slim's nasty plan and the cowboy's violent counterplot. But she's not as helpless as everyone thinks.
There are several points in this movie when characters crawl across the ground, each for a very different reason. But that's about as deep as the title goes. Mainly the film is a chance for China to play around with elements from his favourite Coen brothers movies, most obviously Blood Simple and No Country for Old Men. And with its brightly lit sets and smiling killer, there are also nods to Kubrick's The Shining. Each of these references is very cleverly done to keep us intrigued, although we never care about the paper-thin characters and the essentially random situations the script throws them into.
As a result, the film is likely to bore horror fans who prefer something faster paced that gets to the punch without such elaborate set-up scenes. And the rest of us will simply wonder what the point is. That said, China shows a lot of skill as a filmmaker, so the movie works as a calling card for his bold approach to cinema. After the story winds to an end, all we remember are his stylistic flourishes, which bode well for his next project. As long as he has a more interesting screenplay to back up his visual skills, plus a bit more originality to make his love of cinema resonate with us.
"The China Brothers have created something truly remarkable" - The People's Movies.
posted February 24, 2013
****/5 Paul Devine | http://thepeoplesmovies.com
When you witness an audience that has a reputation of been very vocal sit in silence mesmerized in what they're watching you know you're watching something truly special. That audience is the world famous Film4 Frightfesters who love to show their appreciation, the venue was 2012 Film 4 Frightfest at Glasgow Film Festival, the film is The China Brother’s directorial début Crawl. One year one it’s your chance to relive the suspense of the festival favourite in the comfort of your own home.
Seedy bar owner Slim Walding (Paul Holmes) hires a mysterious Croatian hitman (George Shevtov) to murder local garage owner over a shady business deal gone bad. The stone faced stranger planned a double-crossing which backfired when barmaid Marilyn (Georgina Haig) becomes involved. Eagerly waiting at home waiting for the return of her sweetheart Travis (Andy Barclay) as Marilyn believes this is the night he’ll propose however that romantic turns into a night of survival as the single dark road outside her house the psychopathic Croatian and Travis paths have intersected leading the killer to take Marilyn hostage in her own home.
The legacy of the masters of cinema is alive and well in Crawl serving a nice homage especially to the Coen Brothers. This may not be exactly be Blood Simple but the China Brothers (Paul & Ben) do show why the Coens are such an inspiration to them with even a bit of No Country For Old Men thrown in for good measure too further inspiring them to create a film that packs so much punch for its 80 minute running time.
Whilst the brothers heroes mould the film’s backbone, the film’s methodical pace is a reminder of an era when things where simple and effective playing at a pace that let you appreciate what you where watching. Crawl may not be blessed with non stop action but what it does do is make up that up with unnerving tension, atmosphere and suspense that even the master of suspense himself Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of.
What really stands out in this film is the silence. So if you thought Silent but deadly was just another crude way of saying you broke wind think again as Crawl utilises the minimal dialogue to great effect. It makes you feel as if you are taking every step with Marilyn (whose character surname is Burns another homage this time to Texas Chainsaw Massacre), visually as well auditory. I’ve also said time after time music plays a vital part of the film and in Crawl Christopher Gordon‘s Bernard Hermann style score plays it’s part adding an extra dimension of tensions, suspense working harmoniously with the atmospheric parts of the movie too.
Crawl may not be the finished article but the China brothers have created something truly remarkable. a chilling piece of genre cinema delivering a nice balance of suspense and even dark humour, even more is the fact they create a film whose story is the main focus not the CGI or who is in the cast. Those little niggling flaws over time will be sorted out and we can look forward to see some fantastic films from these brothers in the near future.
"Excellent new thriller" - DownRight Creepy.
"Decent amount of suspense" - The Guardian.
"China's debut feature is crammed with tension" - Total Film.
Feb 15th 2013 By Rosie Fletcher | www.totalfilm.com
There are traces of the Coen brothers crawling all over Crawl, from the opening gas station sequence - a riff on No Country For Old Men’s coin toss - to its gallery of criminals and drifters populating the Aussie town where wholesome barmaid Marilyn (Georgina Haig) is caught in the wake of a murderous double-cross and taken hostage by a Croatian cowboy (George Shevtsov).
Stylish, slow-burning and veering into torture territory, British director Paul China’s debut feature is crammed with tension yet light on action.
The result is gory and stark, but no Blood Simple.
"Superb and fascinating thriller" - Horror Cult Films.
******** 1/2 / 10 Posted by Matt Wavish on February 13,2013 | http://horrorcultfilms.co.uk
Crawl comes to UK DVD & Blu-ray with a massive reputation of creating nerve shattering suspense and nail biting tension, and I will admit to very much looking forward to the debut film of Paul China. The UK born writer and director made the film with his brother Ben China producing, and between them you’d never believe this was their first film. Yes, Crawl has some plot issues and genuine questionable actions, but overall the film really is exactly how it has been marketed: a ferocious experiment in building tension beyond belief, and a truly nail biting ride from start to finish.
Now, there will no doubt be plenty of comparisons to the Coen’s No Country For Old Men here, and yes those comparisons are justified as Crawl does feature a mysterious killer who says very little, and is quite expressionless. Hell, he even ends up with a leg injury much like Javier Bardem’s Anton, but sadly while China’s vision doesn’t come close to the brilliance of the Coen’s (and to be fair not many films can), to even be mentioned in the same sentence as No Country For Old Men is a clear indication to the quality on offer here. Yes the similarities are often a little too strong, but Crawl heads off on its own, unique path that is one you will slowly walk down, and will walk away from feeling rather exhausted.
There is very little in the way of character or even story build up here, and the film is all the better for it. We meet the mysterious Croatian with his cowboy hat as he is about to pull off a hit on a gas station/garage owner. Much like No Country For Old Men, our killer walks in and strikes up a conversation, and George Shavtsov pulls off a wonderful, chilling performance that quickly makes you forget about the Coen’s, and you will realise that China has his own story to tell. The conversation leads to the Croatian needing his car fixed, and a brief little moment of writing brilliance see’s him claim his car to be “chocolate” coloured. This neat little joke is used a few times later on in the film to cool effect. The car is fixed, the price is too high and suddenly your nerves creep up on you as the killers expression ever so slightly changes. “A little birdie said you were greedy” he says, and kills him.
This is our introduction to The Stranger in the cowboy hat: a chilling, creepy old man who dominates the film and at times will really send shivers down your spine. Shevtsov’s performance is calm, methodical, scary and unpredictable. He is confident and slow-moving to the point you feel he truly believes he is invincible. Nothing fazes him, and he comes across like a brilliant killing machine. He collects his money from local bar owner Slim Walding (a brilliant Paul Holmes) and heads off on his way, and this is where a number of different characters cross paths which lead to one fateful night of terror.
Slim Walding runs his bar, and while it is never explained just why he ordered the hit on the garage and gas station owner, it is clear there is a bitter rivalry between them. Walding also enjoys spanking one of his waitresses who owes him money, and he also brings much of the twisted comedy that lightens the mood now and again. When being interviewed by the local sheriff, his bar staff brings him a drink, and he tells the authorities “she’s got some ass on her!”. The proceeding silence is hilarious, and the facial expressions priceless. He also gets nosebleeds, brought on by stress, usually in the presence of “my wife” he hilariously says.
Then there’s the beautiful and totally harmless Marilyn Burns (the stunning Georgina Haig), she also works at the bar and her boyfriend is expected home tonight after some time away. She is also expecting him to propose, and rushes home to set the mood. Instantly likeable and extremely pleasing on the eye, Haig rounds off a great cast of main characters who will all see this one night change their lives forever.
The plot crunch comes when The Stranger accidentally runs over the returning boyfriend after leaving the bar with his money. Literally five minutes away through the woods is Marilyn’s house, and so The Stranger heads there in an attempt to get away from the scene of the crime. However, things are not that simple, and what follows is a truly intense experience of a cat and mouse game between The Stranger and Marilyn, and the next forty odd minutes will see viewers only needing the front half of their seats. China builds up suspense and unease masterfully, and quite literally out of nothing at all. Silence is the name of the game here, silence and very slow camera work.
Some have complained that the film is too drawn out, and that nothing happens. I disagree, the creation of tension is superbly delivered by simply allowing the viewer to become part of that tension. Music is used, to great effect I might add, every now and again, but the main focus is panic, utter panic as the characters creep around the house trying desperately to get the upper hand. There is very little dialogue too, and the set up pretty much relies on your belief in the characters, and you will believe them. The Stranger is a chilling presence, and really not someone you want creeping around your house. When he does dish out violence it is quick, brutal and savage. Marilyn, on the other hand, is sweet, innocent and sexy as hell and you will almost find yourself screaming “he’s behind you!!!” just to help her.
Gorgeous camerawork is used to superb effect. China’s camera stays still, or drifts around following the characters as if it too is trying not to be seen. Every now and then the camera also glimpses something moving in the background, out of focus and the effect using this traditional scare tactic is terrific. There are also some wonderful shots of the Australian countryside at night, and one particular moment which really stood out for me is when The Strangers hat is on the floor and becomes engulfed in the blood of one of his victims.
Crawl proves that the UK has some serious new talent in the China Brothers, and on the evidence of this superb and fascinating thriller, there is a lot more to come from these extremely talented team. While it will not please everyone, those who do buy into Crawl’s magnificent study of tension and real fear, will find themselves hugely rewarded with a film that is clever, menacing and most of all, frightening.
"Crawl is an impressive calling card" - Little White Lies.
"Every single scene is choreographed to perfection" - Lowdown Magazine.
"Crawl is a fantastic achievement in ratcheting up tension and suspense" - Ain't It Cool News.
Directed by Paul China
Written by Paul China
Starring Georgiana Haig, Lauren Dillon, George Shevtsov
Find out more about these films here!
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Though at times I found this film to literally crawl along pacing wise, CRAWL is a fantastic achievement in ratcheting up tension and suspense. This is a perfect example of a film living within its means, not trying to reach to places the budget can’t go, but settling on making the best of what it has. And what it has are strong performances from it’s cast, especially the young Georgiana Haig who is trapped in a house by a nameless hitman.
This film is very Coen Brothers-esque in it’s attention to building tension due to devious acts and pangs of guilt that come along after those acts. I was taken back to BLOOD SIMPLE as Georgiana Haig, like Frances McDormand in the Coen’s film, must silently move about her house against an assailant who moves silently in the shadows. Haig plays both damsel and ass kicking heroine well here, juggling tough and delicate well throughout the film. George Shevtsov plays the unnamed assassin who is hired to settle an unpaid debt and shades of Javier Bardem as he inscrutably pursues his victims like a great white shark without emotion or care.
The film is an extended standoff between these two characters meticulously plotted and executed with moments of fear to the nth degree (mainly due to the performance by Haig). Come may find this film to drag and I would have to agree that occasionally I felt the undeniable pull of my fast forward finger to it’s favorite button my the remote control. But I’m glad I didn’t end up doing it.
CRAWL doesn’t want to be showy or big budget. It works because the director knows how to build and sustain tension. For the most part it works. Showing director Paul China knows his Hitchcocockian/Coen Bro-ham suspense well, CRAWL is an achievement in the high tension, noir genre.
"Impressive first feature by the China Brothers" - Mr Movies.
"Paul and Benjamin China have created a masterpiece" - Planet Fury.
"A stunning first movie that drips with suspense" - Horrorphile.
March 12th 2012 | www.horrorphile.net
Slithering haphazardly across the filthy floor like a snake blitzed on the booze-addled blood of a desert drifter who pulled up the wrong rock, Crawl (2011) is the nightmare thriller that slides down the throat like a shot of Black Crow bourbon; potent and oily, like a viscous bad dream, this tale of fucked-up vengeance will slap your pretty ass into the middle of next week.
Here’s the lowdown; Bar owner Slim Walding (newcomer Paul Holmes), a seedy grub of a man who sweats like a black man at a white woman’s funeral, hires a mysterious Croatian, “The Stranger” (George Shevtsov), to commit murder over an unpaid debt, but, as beautiful noir fate would have it, a planned double-crossing backfires when pretty young waitress Marilyn Burns (Georgina Haig) is held hostage in her own home, anxiously awaiting her fiancée Travis (Andy Barclay).
Georgina Haig as Marilyn
Crawl is the debut of writer/director Paul China. He’s come out of nowhere and delivered a stunning first movie that drips with suspense. No, it doesn’t just drip; the damn movie is saturated in tension and suspense. Atmosphere pours off this movie like sweat running in rivulets. Think the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple (1982) but set in a humid Australian country town. Yes, Crawl definitely has the same studied intensity of character that resonates from the Coen brothers’ movies.
There’s also an oh-so-black sense of humour that permeates the nightmarish proceedings. Slim Walding is a real comedian. Well, unintentionally, of course. He actually seems sprung from a David Lynch movie. He gets some pearler lines of dialogue. Not that there’s much in the line of spoken word in Crawl. And that’s one of the things that makes the movie so memorable, is its lack of dialogue. It doesn’t need it.
George Shevtsov as the stranger
Director China loves to linger. He loads his scenes with an attention to small details, to odd noises. They feed the suspense terrifically. If anything else Crawl is an exercise in dread. It slow burns most studiously, but it also rewards in the most unusual way. There is violence, some of it explicit, some of it not. There is vulgarity, some of it crude, some of it suggestive. What Crawl holds so well, and this is a testament to excellent casting and direction, is restraint. Yes, Crawl is more about what you think might happen, but doesn’t, and then what does happen that you had forgotten was a possibility.
Andy Barclay as Travis
I]Crawl[/I] surprises, yet feels familiar, it’s a curious, but satisfying mix, and the end result works most admirably. The steady, assured direction, the thick atmosphere, the excellent score from Christopher Gordon, and in the acting department top props to Paul Holmes, who virtually steals the show. Shevtsov hasn’t been as unctuous since Love Serenade, while young Georgina Haig fits the bill of vulnerability like a glove, it's amusing to note that her character's name is one very big nod to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). All in all is a very impressive debut for a low budget feature, I look forward to more movies from Mr. China.
"The China Brothers first feature film is nothing short of a triumph" - AndyErupts.
GFF 2012 REVIEW – Crawl
February 27, 2012 by Andy
I entered the screening of Crawl at Glasgow Frightfest with a tremendous tension in my jaw, like a wound spring, a remnant of my annoyance at having just sat through Tape 407. I was looking forward to Crawl immensely and I fear, had it not lived up to my expectations, I may have called an end to my Friday Frightfest adventure and left it all in the hands of Milton, Shengis and Tash.
So thank God for the China Brothers as Crawl turned out to be everything I hoped it would be and a little bit more.
The story of Crawl revolves around three characters, crooked bar owner and “entrepinour” (this is NOT a mistake) Slim Walding, pretty barmaid Marilyn Burns and an Eastern European hitman in cowboy duds known simply as “The Croatian”.
Things take a turn for the worst when Slim pays the sinister Croatian to off a local garage owner over a business deal that has turned sour. The Croat killer does as required but attempts to double cross the sweaty, drunken publican. Meanwhile, Marilyn patiently awaits the return of her boyfriend Travis, hoping that with his arrival will come a long-awaited marriage proposal.
However, her night is about to be ruined by the arrival of an unexpected guest…
That’s the abridged version but to tell the truth, there isn’t that much more to the story and that is far from detrimental to the film, rather it works to its credit. There is very little unnecessary exposition, in fact Crawl has entire sections that are completely devoid of dialogue, instead using the silence as a means to build tension, something that director Paul China does very well indeed.
The China Brothers first feature film is nothing short of a triumph. It’s a film absolutely drenched in suspense, the kind of suspense that Hitchcock or Polanski would approve of.
The cast are all excellent. Georgina Haig is wonderful as Marilyn (her name, a nod to Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘s lead actress) while Paul Holmes is absolutely hilarious as Slim, the scene involving his “game” with Lauren Dillon’s Holly being particularly fun. If they handed out awards for best accident victim, Andy Barclay would win hands down for his portrayal of the hapless Travis.
It’s George Shevtsov who steals the show as The Croatian. Completely deadpan and toothpick thin, but with a strange playfulness to his eyes, Shevtsov glides across the screen, a picture of calm and even in his…nastier…moments, barely shows a single flicker of emotion.
Crawl absolutely shattered my perception of what is possible on a low budget. You can see every penny spent here. You can see how far the budget has gone and it looks all the better for it. It’s a very well made film. It looks fantastic and every scene is permeated with a real undercurrent of impending dread.
I also want to make mention of Christopher Gordon’s score. Plinking piano and ominous chords are the order of the day and Gordon does a masterful job of matching the tone of the film precisely. I’s do go far as to say that I’d imagine that if you listened to the score alone, you would be able to follow where the film was going without ever seeing it. It’s that effective.
China’s film further cements Australia’s growing reputation for producing quality genre films. I’d go so far as to say that Crawl is light years ahead of most horror films emerging from the UK and US, both in terms of technical achievement and atmosphere. It does not disappoint. One of my top films of 2012, so far.
"A stunning piece of cinema…" - Blogomatic 3000.
"It has cult classic written all over it…" Media Culture: Best Films of 2011.
"An exhilarating debut...truly impressive" Media Culture.
"Restrained, riveting and resonant...makes an immediate impact" - ArtsHub.
"A thrilling cinematic work crafted with dark nuance and graceful skill" - SBS Film.
"Glorious stuff" - Time Off.
"Paul China is a master of suspense" - Film Radar.
"China has hit a home run" - Horror Movie A Day.
"Rivals No Country for Old Men in gritty style and suspense...an assured Hitchcockian slow-burn" - Dread Central.
October 18th, 2011 By Sean Decker | www.dreadcentral.com
Speaking on the carpet with British transplant turned Australian filmmaker Paul China of his feature Crawl (this flick rivals No Country for Old Men in gritty style and suspense, is an assured Hitchcockian slow-burn, and should be picked up for distribution immediately, given the audience’s boisterous response), he told us, “I’m extremely excited that it’s playing here. We have been following Screamfest for quite some time, and to be selected is a true honor really. A lot of great films have played here from first-time filmmakers with their first films, and it’s been great. Its selection has really kick-started the festival circuit for us, given the caliber of the films which play here.”
As for Crawl's genesis, “It took us about three years to get the film off the ground, from writing the script and raising finances,” China said of the flick, which stars Georgina Haig, George Shevtsov, and Paul Holmes. “My brother and I pretty much did it all ourselves, in terms of building the project and production, so it took some time, and even up until now, with getting it into film festivals and seeking distribution, it’s been a long haul.”
Pertaining to his and Benjamin's inspiration, “We tried to get a couple of films off of the ground before this one, but sadly they never came to fruition. But with Crawl we always had this killer little idea of a suspense film because we are big fans of Hitchcock and Polanski. It had minimal characters and minimal locations, and we really wanted it to be cinematic and as professional as possible, and the idea just stuck with us, and we started to see it through. We wanted to push the boundaries and try to not be conventional, and to open it up a bit more and to take chances.”