"Paul China has made three separate films and pushed them together and it quite simply hasn’t worked..."

Writer-director Paul China and producer and brother Ben are clearly huge cinema fans and are no doubt very talented. Unfortunately that might be where the praise for this film ends. Set in an unnamed rural town in Australia, Crawl is a straight up thriller but one that occasionally slides into the horror genre, while at 120 minutes in length, the plot is surprisingly complex, or maybe it just appears to be.

A misogynistic, seedy bar-owner who also dabbles in drug use, hires a Croatian hitman and ex-drug user to murder a business partner and friend who has gone AWOL without paying his debt. A not particular neat but fairly simple thriller film premise. Where China fails, however, is he can’t seem to decide what kind of film he wants to make, as we are lead through these odd two dimensional and unnecessary plot twists. As the Croatian leaves town after the murder, he finds himself involving an innocent woman through nothing more than a coincidence. The scenario suddenly evolves into a classic horror set up as the heroine fights off the intruder. As we get used to the mysterious Croatian being soft spoken, intelligent and subtle, we find him getting more lumbering and creepier for no other reason other than to keep the plot from jarring to a halt.

As this is going on we catch a glimpse of the bar owner, who other then propping up the scenes as the drunk, loud stereotypical Australian, seemed to have no other role. If they had got someone more believable in the role perhaps the story of the bar owner secretly being a bit of a sexual deviant would have made sense, but instead comes across as amusing rather then anything else. Then you realise this film has also been billed as a ‘black comedy’ as well as a thriller and a horror. Paul China has made three separate films and pushed them together and it quite simply hasn’t worked.

What disappoints most about this film is the potential. The cinematography and sound is fantastic, some of the best shots and accompanying Hitchcock style violins really does bring home that you’re supposed to be watching a film that will scare you. China borrows heavily from other directors though, with painfully obvious Coen brother’s references and long single shot desk montages similar to Tarantino. Copyright infringement wouldn’t be a ridiculous suggestion.

If China had stuck to violence then a comparison with Funny Games would have been easily made, or perhaps if he had taken an extra twenty to flesh out the characters so they bore a semblance to reality. If China had done any of these things then maybe Crawl would be somewhat more watchable.