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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad75%
Total Crap: 25%

1 review, 2 user ratings

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by Jay Seaver

"It is at least a genuine bad movie, rather than an imitation bad movie."
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 FANTASIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: "Crawler" is a dumb, poorly-acted horror movie, but by gum, it's a SINCERE dumb, poorly-acted horror movie. If it's engaging in self-parody, it's doing so with the straightest face imaginable. The cast and crew all seem to be completely earnest in their efforts to make the best damn "killer bulldozer that is actually some sort of otherworldly beast" movie that they can, and I applaud their effort, at least.

So, there's this equipment rental yard, from which a construction company is looking to rent an earth-moving machine. Sadly, the guy who was to pick it up arrives too late, and it's out on another job. But what about this one, he says, which says "do not rent under any circumstances?" Well, there's a reason for that, and while the two men are mutilated, the crawler shows up at the site on its own, where foreman Jimmy (Deke Richards), who is just returning to work after a fatal accident (fatal to someone else, in case that's not clear) and site manager Sandra (Heidi Hawkins) soon find that bad things happen to any crew member who gets near the metal yellow monster.

It may seem unsporting to make fun of the script to a killer-bulldozer movie, but is it my fault that director Sv Bell and his co-writer Robbie Ribspreader (who, admittedly, has the coolest filmmaker pseudonym this side of Olivier Megaton) put all those fish in that barrel? I think not. They are mighty big fish, too. It's not just that nobody in the film ever says or does anything particularly clever, or that the film is populated entirely by stock characters; it's that everything about the killer crawler seems made up on the spot. That it's got no backstory is maybe fine; a lack of explanation can make an implacable killing machine scarier. But the nature of the beast seems to change on the merest of whims; it can do (and is inclined to do) whatever is convenient to the story at this very moment. You can maybe get shocks that way, but you can't build suspense.

The getting that screenplay to a finished product is often just as slapdash. The film is apparently set in the U.S. (a location is described as "upstate"), but enough characters have obvious French-Canadian accents. The gore effects are okay, but the scenes where the crawler has CGI tentacles shoot out from underneath it are pretty awful. It's not so much the way the tentacles look that's the problem, but how the lighting and shooting scheme seem to suddenly change to cover for any shortcomings to the digital work. It's one thing to shroud your monster in shadows to make what we see look better, but the trick is obvious when the previous shot was in bright sunlight.

Despite all that, watching Crawler isn't a terrible experience. Everybody involved seems to be giving their best effort, and they all seem to know what they're doing, even if they're not especially great at it. Deke Richards is angsty but physically capable. Heidi Hawkins's Sandra is one of the guys, even if she does favor tight shirts and can scream when necessary. Keir Cutler is hostile. None of them are great examples of what they're trying for, but we get the idea, and it's not undercut by self-mockery.

This is a bad monster movie, no two ways about it. But the way it's bad is the same as the bad monster movies that get remembered fondly, not those that suck the fun and spontaneity out of it by trying to replicate the "so bad it's good" experience.

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originally posted: 09/12/09 14:20:51
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Fantasia Festival For more in the 2009 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/02/11 Garbageman612 Sadly, the boobs were the only thing that held my interest! 1 stars
1/22/11 Paul Venno Absolutely terrible. Get these guys a decent editor. Some scenes are way too long. 1 stars
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Directed by
  Sv Bell

Written by
  Sv Bell
  Robbie Ribspreader

  Deke Richards
  Heidi Hawkins
  Keir Cutler
  Robert Reynolds

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