Crawl, the new thriller that seamlessly merges the fear of predatory animals with the pain of a family's estrangement, surfaces in theaters this weekend. After branching out into the mystery genre with The 9th Life of Louis Drax, this is acclaimed horror director Alexandre Aja's homecoming to his horror roots. It's also the first mainstream movie in awhile to star an aquatic hunter that's not a shark. The film's producers, Sam Raimi and Craig Flores, joined Screen Rant at the Los Angeles Zoo to discuss the process of achieving the powerhouse performances from Kaya Scodelario and Barry Pepper, not to mention the terrifyingly realistic alligators.
Congratulations on Crawl, guys. It was a fascinating film, and I very much loved it. I'm looking to know how you guys got involved with the project.
Craig Flores: I found the screenplay as a spec from the brothers, Michael and Rasmussen, and I immediately connected with it. I've always wanted to make a movie with Alex Aja. We tried a couple of different projects together, and for whatever reason those didn't work. I sent it to him; he said, "You had me at the logline." He did something great in that he really opened up the movie. At first the screenplay was very much confined just to the crawl space, and he really opened it up to the neighborhood, the looters - ratcheting up the tension all the way to the house. Sam has always been a fan of Alex, and he even found found in his files this letter that he had written Alex about wanting to make a movie with him. He had offered him a movie, and for whatever reason that didn't work out, but it was a perfect opportunity for Alex, myself and Sam to all partner up and create this movie that I don't think there's anything out there like it. Especially during the summer, to compete with sequels and prequels and all those sorts of things, and really offer audiences something new with our partners at Paramount.
At the very least, it’s nice to be dealing with alligators instead of sharks for the first time in a while.
Craig Flores: Fantastic.
So on that note, what are the technical difficulties with bringing us monster alligators?
Sam Raimi: Alex and the actors had to make most of the movie in a water tank, so I think that was really a difficult thing. A lot of the lightning has to be done under water; the camera has special boxes around it to make it watertight. People have to wetsuits, they get cold. The water has to be pure and clean, has to be tested. So it’s a lot of things that can slow down a production that takes place in water.
Craig Flores: And there’s also the choices we made whether to have an animatronic alligator or practical and CG, so there was a lot of research that went into that. One of the key things is that there some good, really fun and scary practical shots in the movie. But what we found was that, in order to capture how these wonderful creatures move super fast – they go super slow and then if they see something, lightning fast – you can’t get that with an animatronic or practical alligator. You have to do it with CG to mimic that, and I think our visual effects company did a wonderful a job. I hope you enjoyed it.
I did! And I also thought the human element of the film was equally important.
Craig Flores: Super important. You have to invest.
Right. How did you strike the balance between the Haley and Dave dynamic, and then just the crazy horror?
Sam Raimi: I think a lot of that came from the script, with the Rasmussen brothers. Alex was careful when he did his rewrite to craft characters that were understandable, had interesting conflicts. And then a writer, Dana Stevens, actually did an uncredited polish on the picture; she brought something to it also. But mostly I think it’s Alex working with Kaya and Barry to craft performances that were believable and grounded, so you really could take this adventure and believe it.
Speaking of balance, Crawl is both a great disaster flick and a great creature feature. So what would you rather face: drowning in a hurricane or being eaten by an alligator?
Sam Raimi: Hurricane.
Craig Flores. Yeah, hurricane. I’d rather… It’s so gruesome with the alligator, no way. It’s like drowning or being ripped apart, I don’t know.
Sam Raimi: Could I choose a little bit of both? A small storm and a little alligator.
My final question is for Sam. Fans have been hyped about the idea of a live-action Into The Spider-Verse that includes the Raimi Spider-Man. And the post-credits scene of Far From Home makes that almost possibility. So what would be your reaction to a Tom Holland and Tobey Maguire team up?
Sam Raimi: Wow!
Craig Flores: I didn't even expect that.
Sam Raimi: Was that not good enough, the "Wow?"
Yeah, perfect! Thank you.