I fly a decent amount for work now, and it’s one of the few times I can catch up on some of the newer horror flicks, as well as old classics that make their way to in-flight entertainment services. Welcome to another installment of Airplane Movie Reviews.

I became an instant fan of Alexandre Aja’s when I saw High Tension in the mid-2000s. But it was the masterpiece that is Piranha 3D that made him one of my favorite horror directors of the modern age. Yes, I said it–Piranha 3D is a masterpiece. If you don’t believe that, you haven’t seen it.

Anyway, the idea of Aja making another movie where water-based creatures devour human beings seemed like a slam dunk. But instead of a spiritual successor to the gorefest that was Piranha 3D, what I encountered instead was a horror-themed family movie that actually made me cry.

I think this might be my new favorite genre.

Crawl features Kaya Scodelario as Haley, a college student and talented swimmer at the University of Florida. A category 5 hurricane is barreling into the area, and neither she nor her sister have been able to make contact with their father Dave. Haley and her father have not been in much contact since he and her mother got divorced, but she is concerned for his safety. So, she drives into the oncoming hurricane to their old family home.

Haley finds her father in the crawlspace-like basement, wounded from some kind of attack. She quickly fins out that what attacked him was an alligator, and as the area starts to flood, Haley and her father find themselves trapped in the house with several gators patrolling the area in search of a meal.

What follows is a story about a father and daughter reconciling with one another in what they could be their final hours together.

I mean sure, there is also giant gators dismembering hapless police officers and would-be looters against the backdrop of a surging hurricane and a flooding house, but really, this story is about Haley and her father Dave.
Now it’s a well-known fact that I am a crier. I cry over TV commercials, music, dog videos on Twitter–pretty much everything. So if you know me, it may not surprise you to know that I was sitting on an airplace crying over a father explaining to his daughter that her mother was better off without him in her life.

There are some moments in Crawl that really hit home for me. The biggest surprise for me was that those moments were not the ones where gators were chomping screaming humans in half.

As a horror movie, Crawl is probably the tamest one I’ve seen from Alexandre Aja. But it also shows how his filmmaking has evolved from the days of Piranha 3D. I really enjoyed it.

I came for the gators, but I stayed for the family drama. This is the kind of Hallmark Horror I want to see more of.

Verdict: 4 Personal Items Out of 5