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A simple but effective tale of claustrophobic terror, “Crawl or Die” makes great use of a small budget and really delivers on its promise.

Comparing horror movies to books, there are some films that are like novels, with chapters upon chapters of dialogue, character development, and descriptions of the scenery. Other films are like short stories, sticking to a simple premise and telling a compelling story in a few paragraphs. This week’s recommendation is the latter of the two. The premise is in the title — and that’s exactly what you get for the entire 80-minute runtime.  .

Crawl or Die literally opens with a bang.

We meet a rag-tag group of soldiers running from an unseen creature as they fire wildly into the darkness that surrounds them. With nowhere to run, they climb into some underground bunker of some sort. But when the beast comes smashing through the heavy steel door, they have only one chance for survival: crawl, through a narrow tunnel with an unknown end, or die.

It’s simple films like this that I absolutely love.

The title is Crawl or Die, and that’s exactly what the movie is about. 

Now granted, we are given a quick flashback to explain what’s going on. But it’s about 30 seconds explaining that all the women on the Earth are infertile. The last fertile woman has been found, and she needs to be transported by a group of soldiers from her hiding spot to Earth 2. That’s it! That is all the backstory the viewer gets before it’s back to the claustrophobic as hell tunnels and the crawling or dying.

No drawn out explanations, no mini-story arcs. Hell, they don’t even mention the characters by name. The last fertile woman on earth is simply known as “The Package”. One soldier is referred to as Snoop, another as Doc, and the main protagonist (and Wendy O. Williams doppelganger) is known as Tank.

There is no need for long drawn out sequences of exposition detailing their motives; they have only one motive — crawl or die.

As claustrophobic films go, this one nears the top. 

As the film goes on, the tunnels get narrower and narrower as the beast nears closer and closer, picking off the members of the group one by one until only Tank remains in a fight for survival against the creature.

I honestly don’t know how they filmed some of these scenes. I will assume it’s a collection of very clever camera tricks. Otherwise, these are some very tight spots, and it’s a wonder that none of the actors got stuck.

Apart from paying to dig a couple of tunnels, a majority of the budget seems to have been allocated to the monster. It stays relatively hidden in the shadows for most of the film, but when it does rear its ugly head, it doesn’t take a bit away from the unbearable tension.

CRAWL OR DIE is an excellent film which doesn’t stray at all from the promise of its terrifying premise. The virtually unknown actors are great, and the director, Oklahoma Ward, does so much with so little — making this film seem like it has a much larger budget that it does.

Rumor has it there are two sequels in the works focusing on the main character, Tank. For now, check out this indie, micro-budget gem now streaming on Tubi.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies)

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