From the films opening credits, dripping with water and set over shots of swim practice and the impending hurricane, it is clear that we are about to get soaked. Now if you walked into the theater thinking this would be a realistic survival film or a touching family drama, you would be wrong. It is about survival, but it’s a genre film, a “creature feature” that is absolutely bonkers.
There are only two human leads, Kara Scodelario and Barry Pepper, who play father and daughter. Kara is just getting out of swim practice when she makes the decision to drive south, into the oncoming hurricane, to check on her father who is not responding to phone calls or text messages. When she gets to the family home she finds a lot more then she bargained for when the crawl space under the house not only houses her injured father, but what would seem like a gigantic man eating gator. With the storm’s floodwaters fast approaching and a seemingly hungry gator on the prowl, the father and daughter duo have to fight and overcome insane odds to get to safety.
Now, what is worse then being trapped in a crawl space with one feisty alligator? Well how about two, or even three or four! Why are these gators so aggressive and hellbent on killing everyone you ask, well it’s because they have nested under the house of course. It may seem like I am saying this in jest and that I did not enjoy this, I actually really loved it. Director Alexandre Aja brings a certain flair to the screen that is seen with unique visuals, from tense cat and mouse games under the house, to a clever fight in the upstairs bathroom. The attacks are brutal, reminiscent of Jaws, with bodies being thrown around like dolls. The actors each sport an ever growing list of injuries that get more gruesome as the attacks keep coming. With the ever present threat of the gators and the hurricane, there is not time to move from the edge of your seat. No doubt aided by producer Sam Raimi, this visceral struggle of survival has plenty of blood and amputations to go around, but it is grounded by a family thats fighting for each other as much as they are fighting to stay alive. At a very brisk 87 minutes this does not get weighted down by overly dramatic family moments or slow exposition, it is a non stop thrill ride.