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Warning: SPOILERS for Crawl are swimming right beside you! Get out of this story if you don’t want to be bit, otherwise prepare to fight off the spoilergators!
At the end of the fast-paced, but grueling ordeal that is Crawl’s central story, Kaya Scodelario’s Haley and Barry Pepper’s Dave look to be rescued by a helicopter that they’d previously alerted to their swampy predicament.
We say “look to be,” because the film ends on the final frame of Haley looking back and smiling at her father, with the chopper in the distance. Now you might be wondering why Crawl would have ended on that moment in particular, without showing the audience the actual rescue effort.
It’s a question CinemaBlend asked about during the press roundtables for Crawl, which took place earlier this week, and Kaya Scodelario herself had a particularly interesting theory she mentioned, as she confirmed that there were no scenes shot to go past that particular moment:
No, there wasn’t, actually. Which I always thought was quite clever, because I kept expecting there to be a cut to [Haley and Dave] in the hospital bed. And I really like that you are just on this journey, and that’s all you get to see, and that you’re here for this experience and this thrill ride and it doesn’t let up, it doesn’t stop until the credits roll. There’s something quite exciting about it. After I saw it, I kind of needed 20 minutes to calm down after it, because I felt exhausted. And I think that’s the pace that Alex wanted to keep.
Crawl is a film that runs just shy of an hour and a half, as it trades in being a well-oiled thrill ride, and manages to do so in spades. It’s a credit to director Alexandre Aja’s keen eye for pacing and thrills, as everything from whether the film’s dog would live or not to just how much back story should be included in the film’s final product was weighed very carefully.
The latter issue was one that came up frequently during the roundtables with Crawl director Alexander Aja, as well as co-stars Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper. This stemmed from remarks that Scodelario had made about how there was more backstory and dialogue shot between her character and her father, played by Pepper.
When asked if any particular scenes were of note or missed by either Barry Pepper or Alexandre Aja, the director responded with this information in his case:
We basically cut one scene, a big one, and there is some element missing from that moment that kind of gives you a little bit more background about why Dave [Barry Pepper] was [at the house.] I think people will understand without the scene, but it was kind of more explaining the reason. It was just a choice to make at some point to have that very fast paced, intense, survival horror or having a little bit more back and forth with the dialogue.
The choice to excise that scene from Crawl works, as we learn some similar information through the moments of narrative downtime in the film’s calmer scenes. Dave, who was in the process of selling the house after his divorce from Haley’s mom, backs out of the sale because he still clings to how much the house means to him.
From the sound of the details that Alexandre Aja gave us above, it looks like that big scene may have explained that scenario in greater detail. In a more melodramatic version of Crawl, that scene would have played gangbusters. But in the current cut of the film, which looks like it could be the latest horror event of the summer, it would have distracted too much from the carefully timed pressure and release that the scares of the film operate on.
Barry Pepper also knew that Crawl operated on this very basic, but severely effective principle, as he also discussed the process that transformed Michael and Shawn Rassmussen’s original draft of Crawl into a vicious animal of a film.
There was far more of the character relationship in the first draft of the script. But once you start putting the film together, you start realizing the pace just can’t slow down for some of the more nuanced dialogue pieces. I think this fanbase expects a pretty fast and wild ride, which is great. I think the film is tight, and it’s just a popcorn crunching thrill ride, as opposed to it being weighed down by too much character development and emotion and conversation. I think, geographically, the audience doesn’t know where the alligators are, and the threat could be anywhere once the water rises. And so, to expect them to sit through long dialogue, it might feel slightly unrealistic.
Filmmaking truly is a collaborative experience, and the work that went into Crawl’s final product on all fronts reflects just how sharp the decision making process on the film truly was. It’s already starting to reap some of the benefits, with a healthy $1 million being earned after last night’s advanced previews, and it’ll hopefully carry the film to a surprising, and bountiful, result when this weekend’s box office is said and done.