Crawl or Die (2014)

crawlordie00OK, I have no problem with shaky-cams, but combine them with strobing light and quick-cut editing, and this film is in a deep hole even before it goes into a deep hole.

A group of soldiers seems to be in a firefight trying to rescue some civilians on white jumpsuits.  They discover a hatch in the forest and send a woman down to investigate.  It seems to be their only option, so they all go down and seal the hatch behind them.

Oh great, the movie is a flashback.

A military commander is showing his troops a picture of the last fertile, virus-free woman in the wold.  The troops are to snag this woman, board The Oklahoma and take a month month journey to Earth-2.

OK, not a flashback movie, we’re back to the future.

They find the underground chamber leads to a series of hatches and tunnels.  They’re going to have to do a titular CRAWL (which is helpfully splashed on the screen).  They enter a long circular tunnel about three feet in diameter.  They whole time we hear the grunts of the reptilian creatures which are pursuing them.  So creatures and a virus — OK, I’m down with that.

crawlordie55As they debate taking a break so The Package (their code name for fertile Myrtle) can get some doctor prescribed sleep, one of the soldiers is pulled into a side tunnel by an alien.  And I mean, pulled the hard way, bending him backwards at the waist.  As the alien chows down on him, the others manage to get away.  I wasn’t under the impression that the aliens weren’t after them as a food source, but we’re not given much to go on.

As they reach another resting point, the leader Tank strips off her pants and gives them to the doctor to make bandages.  Having already dispensed with her jacket, she is now down to a sports bra and spandex panties.  She climbs 30 feet down another tubular tunnel and places lights every few feet so she will have a clear, lighted, unobstructed shot at the alien as it comes down the tunnel.  Unless, you know, she falls asleep.

Which she does.  She wakes up at the last possible second and begins blasting the creature.  Not sure if it is only mostly dead, she leaves Doc to keep at eye on it.  Big mistake.  We get our first good look at the alien and it is pretty similar to . . . er, an alien — the H.R. Giger kind, with the long head and maybe even a smaller set of choppers in its mouth.

crawlordie18So now we are down to Tank and The Package with half the movie left to go.  After coming to the end of the tunnel, they have no option but to climb through an even small hole which seems to have been burrowed through the earth.  This one is maybe two feet in diameter.  I must admit, this did get me squirming.  Every time you think she might have reached the surface or a chamber, its just more tiny tunnel with no way to back up.

Improbably, one of the aliens has squeezed his giant noggin into the hole and is right behind them.  And speaking of behinds, this movie has the most extraordinary number of butt-shots in history.  Not that that’s a bad thing — Tank has clearly been spending time at the gym.  Sadly, the alien catches up to The Package and kills her.

Tank cuts the rope and continues down the hole.  She makes it through the earthen tunnel to another piece of tube.  This one is so small, she can barely manage the leverage to wriggle through.  And yet that alien is still chasing her with that giant melon.

crawlordie54After dropping through a slot to another lower level, she finds the ony way out is a horizontal slit which is just comical at this point.  A C cup wouldn’t have made it.  The only way things could get worse is if the tunnel was full of dirt.  So it is, and she has to start digging her way through.

With 5 minutes to go, there were a few directions this could go.  The ending was a little bit of a cheat, but after the intensity of the past hour, I was fine with it.

Complete lack of characterization: I was fine with it.  After a few minutes I even had to turn on Closed Captions to see what anyone’s name was.

Lighting: This was a mess from the first jittery scenes all the way through the tunnels. Maybe it worked using the the flashlights to light the scene rather than real camera equipment. No problem.

Sound: I loved the relentless clawing, roaring, chomping and scraping in the background as a constant reminder of Tank’s predicament.

The only real disappointment is in the dialogue, of which there is thankfully very little — especially in the last scene which is stunningly lame.

Also, maybe I’m an old-fashioned guy, but I don’t want my heroine to be named Tank. Who would have bought Tank: Tomb Raider?  Although maybe it would have helped the dreadful movies.  A last name only like Ripley, I’m OK with.

Having a female protagonist named Tank is like having a cat name Frank — it just ain’t something I want to cuddle with.

I never expected to see a film more claustrophobic than Buried, but this is it.


This is just about the only decent shot we get of Tank.



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