By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Debuting today on Blu-ray, DVD and on demand from Paramount Home Entertainment, Alexandre Aja’s CRAWL strands a father and daughter played by Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario in a hurricane-flooded house infested with killer alligators. Staging the watery mayhem involved constructing not just the home but the surrounding town on sets, as seen in some exclusive pics you can check out after the jump, along with a few words from the director.
Set in Florida during a Category 5 storm, CRAWL (scripted by Michael Rasmussen and Shawn Rasmussen) follows Haley (Scodelario) as she heads into the midst of the wind and rain to rescue her estranged dad David (Pepper), and the two wind up facing the hungry reptiles both in the basement and outside. Aja and his team—including cinematographer Maxime Alexandre, who provided the photos below—shot the movie on soundstages in Serbia, where the cellar and the house’s upper floors were constructed—along with its neighborhood in a huge bluescreen space. The surrounding environment may have been added digitally, but the floods themselves were very real.
“It was so hard,” Aja says, “spending 12 hours in the water all day long for 40 days, in a wetsuit, with 50 people in the water around you and rain and rain. When you deal with water, you’re dealing with physical forces that are like… Just that shot of the boat coming inside the living room, it was 20 tons of pressure going against the set. So you cannot do it [just] anywhere; you have to do it in a place where the set won’t be destroyed. We had to build seven tanks to flood each of the sets. The biggest one was 60 meters by 80 meters; it was gigantic. The gas station and all the houses had the water rising up to two meters—and all that had to resist millions of gallons of water.”