When you witness an audience that has a reputation of been very vocal sit in silence mesmerised in what their watching you know you’re watching something truly special. That audience is the world famous Frightfesters who love to show their appreciation, the venue was 2012 Film 4 Frightfest at Glasgow Film Festival, the film is The China Brother’s directorial début Crawl. One year one it’s your chance to relive the suspense of the festival favourite in the comfort of your own home.
Seedy bar owner Slim Walding (Paul Holmes) hires a mysterious Croatian hitman (George Shevtov) to murder local garage owner over a shady business deal gone bad. The stone-faced stranger planned a double-crossing which backfired when barmaid Marilyn (Georgina Haig) becomes involved. Eagerly waiting at home waiting for the return of her sweetheart Travis (Andy Barclay) as Marilyn believes this is the night he’ll propose however that romantic turns into a night of survival as the single dark road outside her house the psychopathic Croatian and Travis paths have intersected leading the killer to take Marilyn hostage in her own home.
The legacy of the masters of cinema is alive and well in Crawl serving a nice homage, especially to the Coen Brothers. This may not exactly be Blood Simple but the China Brothers (Paul & Ben) do show why the Coens are such an inspiration to them with even a bit of No Country For Old Men thrown in for good measure too further inspiring them to create a film that packs so much punch for its 80 minutes running time.
Whilst the brother’s heroes mould the film’s backbone, the film’s methodical pace is a reminder of an era when things were simple and effective playing at a pace that let you appreciate what you were watching. Crawl may not be blessed with non-stop action but what it does do is make up that up with unnerving tension, atmosphere and suspense that even the master of suspense himself Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of.
What really stands out in this film is the silence. So if you thought Silent but deadly was just another crude way of saying you broke the wind think again as Crawl utilises the minimal dialogue to great effect. It makes you feel as if you are taking every step with Marilyn (whose character surname is Burns another homage this time to Texas Chainsaw Massacre), visually as well auditory. I’ve also said time after time music plays a vital part of the film and in Crawl Christopher Gordon‘s Bernard Hermann style score plays it’s part adding an extra dimension of tensions, suspense working harmoniously with the atmospheric parts of the movie too.
Crawl may not be the finished article but the China brothers have created something truly remarkable. a chilling piece of genre cinema delivering a nice balance of suspense and even dark humour, even more is the fact they create a film whose story is the main focus not the CGI or who is in the cast. Those little niggling flaws over time will be sorted out and we can look forward to see some fantastic films from these brothers in the near future.