COD3Crawl or Die has two things going for it, the first being the title. The exhortation with threatening consequences invokes a warm, familiar feeling for fans of the exploitation genre. And yet, how great would it have been if the movie had been released with its original title, Crawl Bitch Crawl? That name alone would have guaranteed the movie’s admission into a score of film festivals, while simultaneously generating invaluable attention and publicity from the professionally outraged and easily offended among us. Director/writer/editor/cinematographer/producer/set designer Oklahoma Ward promises a sequel at the end of this one, and the film’s official web site is http://www.crawlordietrilogy.com, so there’s still a chance for this Hall of Fame-level title to find its way into the record books.

In the meantime, we’re left with Crawl or Die. It’s difficult to evaluate Ward’s work, other to say that his ambition exceeds his budget. More than anything else, the film is in need of money, and it is not difficult to make a shopping list of what an additional $100,000 could have purchased. Start with a script doctor. The dialogue has an almost Samuel Beckett quality to it in the endless repetition of phrases in the early going. General X (David Zeliff) is one of only two characters who speaks more than two sentences consecutively when he provides the plot in a flashback near the front of the movie. A virus has essentially wiped out the world’s population, and there’s one fertile woman remaining on the entire planet. For the future of humanity, the elite team assembled in front of him must secure The Package and whisk her off planet to Earth 2 to begin the whole repopulation thing.

The camera pans the briefing room while the General delivers the news, and it’s obvious that FedEx and UPS did not survive the apocolypse. The fate of the world rests on a crew resembling the local staff of the USPS, which, as everyone knows, you wouldn’t trust to deliver a punchline let alone a human being. Sure enough, when Earth 2 turns out to be a rather nasty place, The Package (Torey Byrne) comes under immediate threat, and the team must retreat to a series of tunnels and ducts to attempt an escape.

Once in the tunnels, the other entries on the filmmaker’s shopping list become immediately apparent. A sound technician and state of the art equipment would be near the top. At one point, as two of the characters hump their way though a tight passage, the ambient noise seemingly includes a baby crying, crickets chirping, a cement bag being dropped on a concrete floor, and a broken shopping cart with a reversed front wheel being pushed across a gravel parking lot – and none of the noise is synchronised with the action. Lighting is another need; a top-notch gaffer is essential when shooting underground. And underground is where most of the action takes place as the team scrambles to get away from a creature intent on picking them off one by one. The creature is another area of enhanced budgetary need. To be diplomatic, the special effects crew should be encouraged to come up with a, ahem, let’s say, less faithful tribute to the creature from the Alien movies. After that, take whatever’s left from the newly found $100,000 and sprinkle it among a new group of supporting actors.

That brings us, finally, to the second thing Crawl or Die has going for it, its lead actress, Nicole Alonso. No need for an enhancement there – Alonso, as Tank, the de facto leader of the team, is brilliant. It is not hyperbole to say that she gives one of the most extraordinary physical performances you will ever see from an actress. She is stripped down almost immediately to a Sigourney Weaver alien-fighting underpants outfit, and then Ward exploits every inch of her toned body as Tank struggles to get through increasingly tight passages toward an unseen and unknown goal. Her efforts are surreal, and it becomes impossible to distinguish between the film and what the young actress is enduring. Even accounting for movie magic, this looked to be a brutal and exhausting shoot. The story becomes secondary to Alonso’s work.

Three stars – all of them for Nicole Alonso. Her amazing perormance deserves to be widely seen. And for God’s sakes, someone please get Oklahoma Ward to a crowdfunding site before he starts work on the sequel.

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Comments
  1. This is an excellent review! Thank you Mr. Karma!

  2. Johnny Utah says:

    Can’t wait for the sequels!

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