Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In short: Crawl or Die (2014)

aka Crawl Bitch Crawl

In some not closer defined, clearly rather unpleasant future. A team of soldiers is tasked to get “the last fertile non-infected woman” (Torey Byrne) to a secure place on another planet.

Things don’t go well at all, for once they’ve arrived at their destination, the soldiers and what they call their Package are attacked by a creature that looks like a cross between Giger’s xenomorph and a spider. The creature drives the soldiers into a system of underground tunnels, crawlspaces, and holes. The thing seems practically indestructible, so the group is quickly whittled down until there are only the Package and the frighteningly determined Tank (Nicole Alonso) still left standing. Or rather left crawling through ever tighter spaces, all the while followed by a horrible thing that just won’t die and seems to be as determined to kill and eat Tank and the Package as Tank is to not let herself get eaten.

If you’re interested in film as a physical experience, or as a way to evoke very specific bodily feelings in an audience without them having to actually live through them, Oklahoma Ward’s Crawl or Die just might make you as happy as it made me. Well, “happy” might not be the most appropriate expression here, for the feelings Ward’s film evokes so well are claustrophobia, physical and mental exhaustion, desperation, and insane determination, all generally not parts of happiness. Consequently, I should probably say the film might just make you feel pretty horrible in all the right ways, particularly if you’re even the least bit claustrophobic. As someone with a propensity for it, Crawl or Die hit me pretty hard, particularly because Ward is so very good at making the enclosed spaces the film takes place in palpable as physical spaces (or lacks of physical space?), still escalating the enclosure of his characters even at a point when that seems hardly possible anymore.

What I find particularly admirable here is Crawl or Die’s absolute focus on what it’s trying to – and managing to - achieve, with everything else – plot, characterization, etc – pared down to achieve the physical effect and an exhausting forward momentum. What there is of characterization the actors provide through looks and body language, with Alonso focus and high point of the film through a performance that sells the film’s physicality even further, adding a battered humanity to the film I even found unexpectedly touching.


Nicole Alonso said...

Thank you so much for your review of CRAWL OR DIE! You really "got" the film and what we were trying to accomplish - can't thank you enough for helping to spread the word about us. :)

Nicole Alonso

houseinrlyeh aka Denis said...

Thank you for the kind words! I'm always glad to write about films that accomplish what they set out to do so well.

So, thanks for being involved in it!