Thursday, 4 December 2014


I’ve written before about how perfectly horror and comedy blend to make for some fantastic cross-genre films. However, another genre that works so well when spliced with horror is science fiction. Neatly giving us a plausible reason to suspend disbelief when dealing with the horror genre’s more outlandish tropes, the fear of what the future could bring adds an edge to the events onscreen.
Recently I heard about one such horror/sci-fi hybrid that has been making waves with genre fans, and after a brief chat with the filmmakers, I found myself settling down with a film that has been described as ‘The Most Claustrophobic Movie Ever Made’. For those who don’t know, Hickey is very claustrophobic, so surely this would end badly? Read on...

Crawl or Die (2014)

Dir: Oklahoma Ward
Starring: Nicole Alonso, Torey Byrne, Tommy Ball, Wil Crown, David Paul Baker, Tom Chamberlain, Larry Huitt, David Zeliff, Matthew Stephen Crabtree

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I’ll try not to spoil too much here, but read on at your own risk.

Set in the not-too-distant future, humanity is on the brink of catastrophe. A disease known as the OVT virus has ravaged the population to such a degree that there is now a single fertile, uninfected woman left on the planet. To ensure the survival of mankind itself, a crack government military team is tasked with taking the woman (referred to as Package) to a newly inhabited planet classified Earth 2.
So why is a crack military team necessary? It seems that the indigenous species on this new planet don’t much like humans; or rather they do, but preferably in small, bite-sized pieces.
There is already a sizeable, armed force clearing the planet of these beasts for human habitation but with the situation growing dire here on Earth, Package (Byrne) must go right now or risk infection.
So now we find our brave company of tough guys — including feisty heroine Tank (Alonso) landing on the new planet and attempting to get Package to the secure base in one piece. Unfortunately one of the predatory alien beasties has them in its sights and will not give up until it has devoured every last one of them. Desperate and harried, the group is driven into the maze-like network of tunnels beneath the planet’s surface as they seek to escape their pursuer… tunnels that steadily diminish in size as their dwindling number presses on.

BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning): 
It is a rare thing indeed where a science fiction film can use its low budget to actually enhance its effectiveness. Crawl or Die manages to do so admirably, taking its grittier, grimier feel to add to the foxhole, trench warfare feel of the actions onscreen. In fact this harsher edge, combined with some fantastic character design gave the whole thing the feel of a (UK comic book) 2000AD strip brought to life. As a big fan of the title, that is not a comparison I make lightly, but one I feel entirely justified in making here.
The film combined this down and dirty feel combined with serious intensity as a punishing one-two punch to the senses. As a claustrophobic, at times I found myself holding my breath and genuinely on the edge of my seat as the characters squirmed through filth-encrusted tunnels no wider than a beer barrel. ‘The Most Claustrophobic Film Ever Made?’ It gets my vote, hands down.
The film plays very much like the bastard lovechild of The Descent and the nightmarish tunnel sequences of Alien and Aliens, in the best possible way.
Of course atmosphere and intensity can only go so far if the characters are not compelling — and through writer/director Oklahoma Ward’s tight and focused script and a stunning performance from Nicole Alonso we really do get one.
The striking Alonso plays the kick-ass female lead, Tank, to perfection. Tough, brave and cool as hell, Tank is a sci-fi action heroine who easily belongs up there with the likes of Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley. First, she just looks bloody cool — from her high, clumpy combat boots to her cyber-punk Mohawk, Tank is instantly iconic. Of course Alonso does not just look the role, she manages to capture every single nuance of the character in her performance, making her more human and not a two-dimensional sci-fi pastiche. Plus the lengths to which she goes for the role, wriggling through hellishly tight gaps in her underwear, her face plunged into dirt and debris, are above and beyond the call of duty. For that I applaud her. Plus, she even sang the closing credit track Rock With Me. Talk about multi-talented!
Finally with Crawl or Die Ward has created a world, a universe in which more stories are waiting to be told. It feels rich, full of secrets, yet close enough to our own that we can identify it closely enough to empathise with and root for the characters. The story is satisfying on its own, but the hint that there is more to come is tantalising. I for one cannot wait to see what else Ward and his crew have in store for us.

WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): 
Okay, lets get straight to the elephant in the room — the monster is very reminiscent of the titular Alien, as designed by HR Giger. The film has drawn some criticism for this, but there are some quite sufficient differences — not least the fact that the creature has several long, segmented legs sprouting from its back, like some kind of terrifying spider or crab. If the creature were to remain on all fours (well, all eights) throughout, this would have helped, however in a key scene later on the creature stands on its hind-legs and the similarities to the alien become a little clearer. Interestingly, Ward has said in interviews that he would have preferred to not actually show the creature in this film, instead relying on clever camera trickery and sound to imply the creature’s monstrous nature. I would have been onboard for this, but it seems the studio demanded a monster and so a monster we got. Still, if you are going to use any movie monster as a starting point, HR Giger’s Alien design is a pretty awesome one to choose!
Finally, while Tank is undoubtedly a fantastically rounded character, some of the other members of the team don’t get the same depth. Unfortunately this seems to be a by-product of the fact that several of them don’t last very long before they become alien-spider-crab fodder. It’s a shame but inevitable. Luckily others, including Package and Doc (Ball) get to take up some of the slack so the film doesn’t become a one-woman show.

VERDICT: Well, this is one of the easier recommendations I’ll ever make. From heart-stopping intensity to the birth of a sci-fi action icon, Crawl or Die has everything I love here at the House. Sigourney Weaver, Linda Hamilton, shuffle over and make room for Nicole Alonso! Crawl or Die has cult classic written all over it, so get onboard now.
The film has recently set Hulu on fire, leaping up the charts and finding a new audience, plus there are DVDs available on amazon. There’s no region 2 release out there yet, but keep your eyes peeled.
Now are you ready for the good news? The official web site for the film is called Crawl or Die Trilogy. That larger universe is going to get even larger! For those looking for updates, check out the film’s official Facebook page too. Hell, why not give it a Like; I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.


  1. Thank you so much for your wonderful review and your kind words about CRAWL OR DIE and TANK. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the film. Being put into a category with Ripley and Conner is never something I will tire of hearing - those ladies were my inspiration and I am thrilled you feel TANK could be grouped with them.

    As an indie film - we rely on people and fans like you to help us get the word out - so your review means a lot to us. Truly - thank you.

  2. No, thank you for taking the time to read my humble review! I eagerly look forward to seeing more of your work and the return of TANK.
    Best wishes,

  3. Thanks soo much for the great article on our movie. We are very proud of it and we had a blast making it !!! Your article was awesome. We totally appreciate you!! And we 're all stoked and anxious to get to work on part 2!!!! Rock on!!!

  4. Thank you Larry for your kind words! It was my pleasure to review the film and I can't wait to see what the sequel holds!
    All the best,