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Updated: Mar 6, 2020

Part of summer's definition for moviegoers includes sharks on screen, but this season's sharp-toothed water predators take on a different form in the new movie "Crawl." Alligators spend more time swimming than crawling in this adventure that piles disaster upon disaster.

First up, a hurricane. Next, a giant alligator. And thenanother one. Plus more resources for gators as the storm gets stronger and floods, preventing any chance of leaving on the region's roads. Enough? No, why not burst a dam? This all proves more than star Kaya Scodelario expected when shows up to help her father escape from the basement of his Florida home. Portraying a competitive swimmer, she knows her way on top of and under water. But gators emerge pretty much every time she or someone else moves, and director Alexandre Aja scores his points working the dread factor of whether or not the creatures will hit their mark.

With emphasis on a Halloween haunted house scenario where creatures jump out to scare you, "Crawl" lacks detailed plotting and lets predictability reign at times. Some characters practically wear signs that read "Bite Me," though the entertainment quotient in this genre of hungry creature movies means at least someone should survive — but who?

Yes, I hid my eyes a bunch, especially when a cute little dog goes swimming. As for people, Kaya gives a strong physical performance but stretches credibility early on as she swims non-goggled and open-eyed in swamp water. The elasticity of credibility just goes on and on as she and her dad keep moving despite bone crunching, skin tearing, limb removing attacks in bacteria-laden water.

Of course, no one really wants reality in a story like this, so the ultimate issue in the movie deals with a key question for summer: as hungry, sharp-toothed predators, which works better, gators or sharks? After all, both like people a lot; but for us, choosing a preferred movie predator is just a matter of taste.

This review was originally aired on 7/24/2019.

You can listen to it online at

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