James Cole Clay has been working as a film critic for the better part of a decade covering new releases, blu ray reviews and the occasional drive-in cult classic. His writing is dedicated to discovering social politics through diverse voices, primarily focusing on Women In Film and LGBTQ cinema.
James Clay//Film Critic
There aren’t many filmmakers who play to pure genre thrills quite like Alexandre Aja. His latest creature feature, CRAWL, may be his best yet.
This film came out during the summer. Despite receiving very little marketing, it became a sleeper hit both commercially and critically. It’s lean and mean – and in another dimension, this would have been the highest-grossing film of the season. Unfortunately, that dimension doesn’t exist, and CRAWL is slowly lurking its way into becoming a cult hit.
The film follows Haley (Kaya Scodelario), a collegiate swimmer who has to venture to the Southern tip of Florida during a category-five hurricane to rescue her dad (Barry Pepper), who has gone off the grid. Bad decisions about driving into the mouth of a hurricane aside, Haley proves that she’s a savvy survivalist as she narrowly escapes the mouth of gators countless times. Aja is a filmmaker with a nasty streak of gleefully torturing his characters for audience amusement (a reference to his remakes of THE HILLS HAVE EYES and PIRANHA). Still, with CRAWL, he lets off the gas a bit, and it allows him to craft his most rewatchable film to date.
At only 86 minutes, CRAWL gets the audience in an out with only one mission, and that’s to put Haley and her dad through a gauntlet of gators in true edge of your seat fashion. This provides a particular brand of cheap thrills, but Aja sells the material so well, it will make you want to dip back into the water for more.
Special features: Alternate opening, deleted and extended scenes, Beneath Crawl, a look inside the history of the project and the realism the filmmakers tried to capture during production. Category 5 Gators: The VFX of Crawl, Alligator Attacks, a sizzle real of the film’s craziest moments.
CRAWL is now available on Blu-ray and Digital HD.
Like CRAWL, STUBER is one of those films that feels like a mid-budget throwback from the 80s and 90s. It’s an odd pairing of a nebbish Uber driver named Stu (Kumail Nanjiani) and a brutish cop named Vic (Dave Bautista) who are thrusted into working together one crazy night filled with bad decisions, passable comedy and some gnarly action.
STUBER stumbles along the way, but is able to come out the other side being a film that meshes some nice comedic chemsitry between its leads Nanjiani and Bautista. Their odd couple pairing works much more naturally than let’s say the Rock and Kevin Hart.
Here’s a snippet from our review when it ran theatrically:
The action and comedy are supposed to work in tandem with a film like STUBER, and they each feel like they belong in different movies here. There’s very little cohesiveness in terms of its tone. Take, for example, Indonesian action star Uwais, who is a bonafide legend martial artist; he gets two extended fight scenes that are cut together nicely, but the choreography is lacking for an actor with that level of talent. If STUBER could have blended its two disparate elements together, the film could have achieved the same success as last year’s sleeper hit GAME NIGHT.
Look, if you’ve seen the trailer for STUBER, and think to yourself, “I like action. I enjoy laughing. I’ve got 90 minutes to spare,” then you will get exactly what is expected. This is a serviceable film that does its job with workmanlike precision. Bautista and Nanijiani are delightful individuals, but this project was never going to set the world on fire. No Uber joke here – just a serviceable movie that provides respite from the heat.
Special Features: Deleted scenes, a Gag reel, and a Joke-O-Rama for all you chuckleheads out there.
STUBER is now available on Blu-ray and Digital HD.