Reviewbr> "Travis' car and the chocolate one" - Slim Walding
Local publican and entrepreneur Slim Walding has hired a Croatian hit man with a penchant to wearing Cowboy clothes to take out mechanic Rusty Sapp in an unnamed small Australian township. It's how they roll in the bush! The Hit man duly shoots Rusty between the eyes and drops his gun on the way out the door. He got a car tune up as well, so bonus right there. At the local pub barmaid Marilyn is getting ready to go home for a night she is real excited about, she believes her live in boyfriend Travis is going to propose once he gets back from a trip later in the evening.
It's a dark and not stormy night, when Marilyn gets home to an isolated house in the middle of nowhere. She begins to prepare for a night she won't forget, which apparently is going to involve going at it like rabbits. Putting a damper on her plans the Hit man has run over her boyfriend and crashed his car. Thankfully he spies lights in the distance and wouldn't you know it there's a light on over at Marilyn's place. Naturally this leads to a spot of home invasion and Marilyn tied to a chair. Meanwhile Slim, after a spanking episode, works out he's being set up by the Croatian and sets out to track the errant Hit man down. Arriving at Marilyn's he frees her and then goes down as the feisty hit man goes Jack Torrance on his arse. Can Marilyn survive the night or will the Croatian finish culling the town!
Crawl apparently hit screens back in 2011, which must have been to deafening silence as we hadn't spotted it till Monster Pictures released the movie late 2013. Clearly the movie has been doing the film festival circuit, apparently to Critical claim, but from the 80 odd minute movie I watched overnight I got to say we haven't been missing much. There's a whole lot wrong with this one, but it does sport a Director that knows how to use his cameras and locations to quite effective impact. Yes there is the odd chilling moment coming at you but it's kind of enmeshed in a face palming plot and more than a hint of an art for art's sake approach.
Apparently the movie is Director China's tribute to various Coen brothers efforts, yes I got the Blood Simple and No Country For Old Men vibe going down. I'm not going to attack Crawl for taking this approach, as some are apt to do, imitating your film heroes is a time honoured technique, that might just be a tad on the copying side of the equation. Director China however set out to make a Coen Brothers style of movie and I got to say to all intents and purposes he achieved his goal. If you like Coen epics then you are going to dig this one.
Director China should have binned the arthouse bollocks and simply shot a thriller
However what I do have a problem with is the pacing, or what passes for pacing in Crawl. The movie boasts some pretty good scenes, however a number of those scenes seem added on - with no discernible reason for being in the movie, and even worse there's a whole bunch of time between those scenes where the pacing slows to a snail's pace which is more apt to put the audience to sleep than have them on the edge of their seats. If I wanted this sort of thing I'd go watch some French cinema, where snail on downers pace is totally acceptable. And if I wanted scenes that have no purpose then I would go watch some overrated shite from Andy Warhol. As stated before I'm a beers and chips sort of a reviewer, thrown a good story at me, add some characterisation and sub plots, and I'm your man Charlie Brown. Attempt to make it all film school acceptable and I'm more likely to think the Director is a tad of a tosser trying to impress rather than tell a story. I call that tough love people, learn to live with it or go read SBS reviews.
There are also a few odd moments in the movie that will have you scratching your head. One of the barmaids owes Slim some cash for an undisclosed reason and she is paying it off by allowing Slim to give her bare bum spankings. While I've got nothing against showing Slim isn't the most balance person in the world, this particular scene plays out, is never referenced again, and has no bearing on the rest of the movie. One of those scenes that come out of the blue then leave you confused as to why it was included in the finally cut of the movie. Travis is broken down on a back road with zero illumination, so naturally walks into the road in front of a fast moving car. In a Darwin Award moment he naturally gets skittled and that's about all she wrote. While the whole walking in front of a fast car on a country road isn't exactly the brightest thing to have done, Travis doesn't think of jogging home to ring the local mechanic, who Travis doesn't know has been murdered. Home is about a stone's throw away and is the only place showing lights on in the neighbourhood. Either Travis suffers some congenital mental problems or the script simply sucks. You can pick your own scabs on this movie, there's plenty to choose from.
Director China does have a few things happening behind the camera but proves to be slightly too clever for his own good. The focus on objects at various stages provides some foreshadowing, though admittedly it does also involve some red herrings, but we're not talking the new Brad Anderson the focus is overly long and obvious. We work out someone has been setup via the clues provided, which does give us motivation, but once again there's a few scenes that simply don't do anything for the overall movie. China uses plenty of decent camera tricks to keep things interesting and at stages I was nodding my head in approval over some of the framing devices used. Overall got to say it's pretty distracting and takes focus away from what should be a fairly tense exercise in setting up the final few scenes.
One thing I did dig was China getting the most out of his dimly lighted house. On three separate occasions Marilyn thinks there is someone in the house with her and starts checking the downstairs area, the house is full of the creak and groans you would expect from an old structure settling at night, but China backs this with darkened doorways and the hint that things might be happening just out of Marilyn's sight. This shouldn't work beyond the first use of the technique, but China pulls it off with effortless aplomb, the tension is high and the atmosphere is working. I would really like to see this Director tackle a horror outing, think he might knock it out of the ballpark!
Overall there was a good effort from the various cast members, and I'm giving two thumbs up especially to George Shevtsov who plays it enigmatically and Georgina Haig who really nails things via her eyes and general demeanour. Come to think of it Marilyn Burns was the name of the Actress who played Sally Hardesty in Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), was that a reference?
What can I say, light on T&A and definitely not a huge amount of gore, though hounds will be happy with a few efforts being made to splash claret on the screen.
The score by Christopher Green was interesting, and schizophrenic, but got to say it was overly intrusive and took me out of the movie in quite a number of scenes. This isn't Green's fault, his score works as a sort of retro outing, the fault lies with the film editors and producers who turned up the volume to no good effect.
Crawl worked for me, as in I was entertained, though to be honest it seemed somewhat undergraduate and trying to be far more than it had any right to be. Someone should have pulled Director China aside and told him he wasn't working on Lantana; the plot to be honest is far too threadbare for the amount of pseudo arty bollocks being layered on like a fundamental Preacher's wife's makeup. Recommended for those who can get through the rather obvious hints being tossed about, I wouldn't crawl across broken glass to see this movie but I would pick it up as a weekly rental.