Once in a while, a hard-boiled crime thriller reminds of the dark, twisty, erotic pleasures of neo-noir: think ‘Body Heat’, ‘The Last Seduction’ or ‘Miller’s Crossing’. Australian writer-director Paul China’s micro-budget ‘Crawl’ especially thinks it’s an Antipodean ‘Blood Simple’. But it’s not. With no serpentine plot or compelling characters, it’s a story which should have been a 30-minute short film and which, like an animal struck by a car on a country road, crawls slowly and bloodily towards its inevitable end.
When seedy bar owner Slim (Paul Holmes) hires an enigmatic Croatian hitman (George Shevtsov) to bump off his crooked business partner, the vagaries of fate embroil loved-up barmaid Marilyn (Georgina Haig) and her returning boyfriend, Travis (Andy Barclay), whose destiny collides with that of the slab-faced killer – on a road conveniently close to Marilyn's isolated house. An interminable night of threatened violence, redundant sub-plots and irrational behaviour ensues. Christopher Gordon's sparse score and long spells of would-be suspenseful silence keep telling us something exciting is about to happen – but nothing ever does.