An excerpt from my script review for Crawl which will be available 07/22/19:
2.) Plot Stability
Initially, as the gator was chasing Haley around, I’m thinking, “There’s only so much ‘cat and mouse’ you can do under a house before it gets old.”
Mentally, I’m applauding the writers’ efforts, though.
But boy, was I wrong…
Floods. Bunnies. Sump pumps. Spiders! Security guards to the rescue. Security guards dying. Lady gators. Leaving Dad to die, only he doesn’t because “Magical Underwater Guns”!
The writers definitely showed me!
The issue here is that it was all too much, too fast. It’s as if they knew they were in a limited space and wanted to overcompensate for it.
Think of Jaws (setting aside it being a classic and/or masterpiece).
How often did we see the shark? Rarely, right? And on top of that, we don’t really see the entire animal until the end, only glimpses.
Most of what worked there was the tension in between the attacks.
This story could have used more of that, because sometimes not seeing is the scarier part.
When Haley first starts crawling below the house, there is a dark shadow behind her that we see, and she doesn’t…that’s good.
But then it’s ruined by a cheap jump scare reveal and constant visuals of the gator.
Based on the marketing, your audience will know what your monster is, so fucking tease them.
Think about this…have you ever seen an alligator in murky water? Picture, airboat ride, zoo, whatever. Most times you only see the eyes and maybe the nostrils poking out, and even those features are hard to make out.
A pair of “lifeless” eyes staring at you from the water, making you wonder if you’re being stalked? That shit will play with viewers’ fears.
(This kid will probably be nervous around the ocean maybe for the rest of his life. And he wasn’t even dragged in!)
Making your audience hesitant the next time they’re wading into a lake, or hiking through Everglades National Park, and you’ve done your job as a writer of horror!
But sadly, this story felt devoid of any real tension or consequences. Instead, anytime a problem arose it was solved in the next two pages.
I could have done with less, and given us some real moments where Haley and her Dad felt truly lost.
Keep in mind, Buried was Ryan Reynolds in a coffin, and that script was tense as shit due to the unknown of the situation.
Lastly, having two alligators was just stupid. The part about the nest was fucking brilliant and I was hoping it was a mother alligator the entire time, because like most animal species once the male mates it’s “See ya next year!”
Lastly lastly, no one in Florida is going to go down under an abandoned, flooded house in when it backs up to a body of water. Alligators are a real threat!
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