WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Crawl, in theaters now.
One of the biggest problems plaguing movie marketing is how much trailers spoil the plot. We've seen than time and again with superhero films, although Marvel Studios recently changed the game with scenes produced simply to throw off fans. Still, a lot of popcorn flicks spill the beans far too often during promotional campaigns.
Director Alexandre Aja's Crawl suffers from this same problem, with the first trailer giving away its best scenes. In just two minutes, it more or less tells the entire story, but it doesn't kill any of the suspense because Aja keeps a trump card close to his vest.
Aja wants to reel audiences into this gator film, hook, line and sinker. As director of Piranha 3D, he knows what fans want from the genre, and he's trying to show his film is at least as action-packed as Anaconda, Lake Placid, Deep Blue Sea or The Meg.
In the trailer, we see the film's lead Haley (Kaya Scodelario) as she tries to rescue her father, Dave (Barry Pepper), from their flooded Florida home, and the alligator that swam in with the rising waters. The key scenes spoiled include Hayley beging dragged away early on, and the gator chomping down on her arm. We also see one of the film's rescue workers being mauled by the gator, and the mini-tidal wave that sends an alligator crashing into their house, flooding it fully. That leads to that scary scene in the bathroom, in which the gator tries to eat her. Honestly, you've seen her entire conflict with the creature in by now. Or so one might think.
Aja doesn't show much of the pack of gators on the outside, though, which attack other relief workers and looters. There are quick shots teasing these occurrences as the waters rise, but they feel fresh in the film. What's also smartly kept secret is Haley and her father are actually being stalked by two gators in the crawlspace of their home before it floods, so that cat-and-mouse dynamic adds a lot of unexpected tension. The predator-prey relationship is doubled, and the trailers that follow don't give away much in terms of that tag-team contest.
Still, we don't advocate studios and directors telling the entire story, top to bottom, in the marketing. We know Aja, through his knack for horror with such films as The Hills Have Eyes, would know what to reserve for theaters, and what to give away trailers. Still, there's nothing wrong with a bit more surprise when we sit down to soak in these reptiles hunting their human prey.
Ultimately, modern monster movies frequently show more of the beasts in action in order to lure people to the cinemas. The trailers, as seen recently with Godzilla: King of the Monsters, are cut knowing people don't want the Jaws treatment in the marketing; they want to see creatures in all their glory, so they know what they're getting. Thankfully, Crawl still has a few gory scenes remaining to shock its audience in theaters.
Written by Michael Rasmussen and Shawn Rasmussen and produced by Sam Raimi, director Alexandre Aja's Crawl stars Kaya Scodelario, Barry Pepper and Ross Anderson. The film is in theaters now.