Saturday, January 30, 2016

In short: Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

This time around, the proverbial US small town is overrun by a horde of giant spiders of various subspecies. You see, the owner of the local spider farm unknowingly fed them crickets who were contaminated by whatever chemicals a (most probably evil) corporation is illegally dumping around town, leading to a bunch of hungry, aggressive and really rather large arachnids finding a new food source.

Our heroes of the day are single mom Sheriff Samantha Parker (Kari Wuhrer), her young son Mike (Scott Terra) – wearing glasses, and therefore knowledgeable about all things spider – and her teenage daughter Ashley (Scarlett Johansson in the mandatory horror movie you are obliged to make in Hollywood before you’re famous), as well as Chris McCormick (David Arquette), the son of the – now dead - local mine owner come back to not sell his mine to the evil corporation as represented by the mayor and to finally declare his love to the Sheriff. But first, there’s a spider problem to solve through appliance of guns, pointy objects and a very large explosion.

So basically, this is the stuff SyFy Originals are made of, just on a much better budget that buys the film things like an old-style Hollywood score (by John Ottman), enough locations for three SyFy movies, and an effects budget that pays to show a bit more of a small town overrun by giant spiders than most films of its ilk.

The script is of course a semi-parodic rehash of the usual things, not as clever as something you’d have gotten when John Sayles was writing for Roger Corman, but often quite funny, playing with a few genre tropes without ever becoming mean-spirited.

In the hands of director Ellory Elkayem, the script turns into a fast paced little number with a lot of well-timed sight gags, very pretty photography and very decent all-digital effects. Admittedly, there’s not much substance to the whole affair but Eight Legged Freaks is so fun and fast, with a likeable cast of humans and very loud digital spiders that substance is not really the point it is trying to make.

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