[31 Days Of Horror ’21] Mini Reviews: Crawl (2019) and The Lords Of Salem (2012)

Mini Review
Day 25: ‘Attack’
Crawl (2019)

The good ol’ creature feature film can be a lot of fun, filled with dread and horror and some of them are just quite cheesy but generally they tend to be enjoyable on some level. There have been some solid alligator attack films over the years, they are a frightening animal with how large they are, how strong they are and those mighty sharp teeth. Alexandre Aja the director of Piranha 3D (2010), got back into the water with Crawl (2019) and mixed in alligators with a natural disaster to craft an intense story of human survival. This is not a film that is heavy on comedy like Piranha was, it takes itself quite seriously for the most part and it actually works as it’s a character driven film with two strong leads.

Haley (Kaya Scodelario) is a competitive swimmer who finds herself heading into a Category 5 Hurricane in Florida in order to find her estranged father Dave (Barry Pepper) who cannot be found. She heads to the old family home, which is now for sale and after looking everywhere finds her father barely alive in the crawl space under the house. The water is flooding the area quickly and the danger doesn’t stop as alligators have come into the home and are stopping them from escaping. The pair find themselves in a race against time as the waters are rising the alligator’s don’t seem to be going anywhere and they are out for blood.

The dynamic between Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper really holds the film together as this daughter fights to keep her father alive in a very dire situation. Not only are they dealing with the flooding from the hurricane but the alligators are out there as well and they are trapped in the small claustrophobic crawl space. The scenes with the two leads are the strongest, when it leaves them or the location it doesn’t quite feel as good and the CGI is very apparent. The primal fear of human versus animal is on display, with some really terrifying scenes of just how bad the situation is. Some parts do come off a little too silly and don’t really fit the tone of the film but that can be forgiven when it really gets back to the heart of Crawl with Haley and Dave. Alexandre Aja is a filmmaker I generally really enjoy and this shift of gears really suited his style, something about the creature features in the water really suits him and for fans this is recommended viewing.

Rating:

Mini Review
Day 26: ‘Witch’
The Lords Of Salem (2012)

As a fan of most of the Rob Zombie films I’ve seen with House Of 1000 Corpses (2003), The Devil’s Rejects (2005) and Halloween (2007), I figured 31 Days Of Horror was a good excuse to get at least one I haven’t seen in as it fits with the days theme of ‘witch’ I chose to watch The Lords Of Salem (2012). Zombie is someone who generally wears his inspirations on his sleeve and adds in his own unique style and brutality with his films, the tackling of a different horror sub-genre on the surface felt like a good way for him to go. Having now seen the film, I do still believe that it was the right way for him to go but there just felt like something was missing with The Lords Of Salem.

The film follows Heidi (Sherri Moon Zombie) a radio DJ and former addict who is getting her life on track, living in the famed town of Salem. One day at the radio station she is sent a record from ‘The Lords’ and as the song plays very strange things begin to happen and she starts having crazy visions. Francis Matthias (Bruce Davison) an author who was a guest on the radio show has written a book about the Salem Witch Trials and begins to investigate the strange music on the record and uncovers a secret past that links the town to something worse than legends of witches.

There is a lot going on within the film and naturally saying more would venture into spoiler territory, however this isn’t a film that relies heavily on it’s plot as it’s absolutely about what you see and feel as you watch it. At times it does feel like a waking nightmare with visions of pure horror, in this way it does really work quite well. However the pacing just isn’t there and the scenes don’t quite connection to each other and they really should. Heidi is a character that isn’t explored too much and it can be difficult to relate to her as a character or really care too much about what she is going through, which is a shame as Sherri Moon Zombie is very impressive in the role. There is a really good cast here with all sorts of horror and cult names showing up, perhaps the most memorable is Meg Foster, someone we do not see too much but leaves an incredible impact. The Lords Of Salem is Zombie unfiltered, which isn’t a bad thing but everything within the film was a bit too muddled to really fit together nicely. It is a good film and definitely one for those who do like Zombie’s films, style over substance just didn’t quite work well enough for me personally.

Rating:

Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea

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