Director: Mike Mendes
Cast: Greg Grunberg, Ray Wise, Clare Kramer, Lombardo Boyar, Lin Shaye
Plot: An alien spider escapes a government facility and a happy-go-lucky exterminator (Grunberg) gets caught in the middle.
When watching B-Movies, every now and again, you will have to ignore glaring problems with script and characters, and just give into the infectious fun a film crew had. This is exactly what happens with Big Ass Spider.
The film gets going quickly. After a routine job, Greg Grunberg’s exterminator character gets bitten by a fairly poisonous spider. He checks himself into the hospital for a quick antidote (we get the impression this is a regular occurrence for him), oblivious to the fact that something in the morgue below, was using a dead body to smuggle its way into New York. Before long, reports of ‘something’ lurking in the hospital get loose, and, hoping to quickly nip this outbreak in the bud, the hospital manager offers Grunberg free health care, if he just take care of their pest problem. However, while he goes into the morgue to handle this ‘creature’, the government show up and it becomes clear that this bug is not just any old spider.
This movie is actually fairly scary for the first twenty minutes or so. Bearing in mind, I am an arachnophobe, so the tension of some evil spider crawling around hospital ventilation shafts sends shivers down my spine without fail. I would understand if anyone who wasn’t a massive wimp would find the opening scenes just as much of a misfire as any other horror B-Movie out there. However, for the most part, this movie was incredibly creepy, when the spider wasn’t even on screen. It would show you a glimpse of the spider crawling up a wall and then cut away. Your mind would be freaking out, wondering where the spider actually was. It would get even worse, when the shot would jump back and it would be gone. You will probably spend this movie, terrified on your sofa, wondering where the little fucker would jump out next.
This is why it is such a shame that the movie rushes through this part and gets to the ‘Big Ass’ part of the spider. The spider soon grows to Godzilla proportions and it no longer becomes scary. We enter more conventional B Movie monster movie territory. For a while, it tries to keep the same suspense, but it becomes a little bit laughable that the government keep losing track of a four storey tarantula. Eventually the film gives up and we just get onto the bloody kills part of the movie. It is fairly amusing to see this giant spider kill six people at once with its spare legs, but the joke wears thin soon. It is a common flaw with B Movies. Sure the idea of a Sharknado sounds fun, but can the gag really stretch to feature film length?
Then we have the more traditional pitfalls of a B Movie. The characters are hollow and the story makes no sense. The lead is meant to be a spider expert, but some of the common knowledge he fires out is totally wrong, making me think that I am more qualified to take on this giant arachnid. The sidekick figure starts off funny, but that card is played too often. It is fun when the idiot character accidentally comes up with the solution to a problem, but that is literally the only narrative trick the writers seem to use. The female figure is also pretty lame. I get that this girl was always going to end up with the lead male, because that is the kind of predictable story-telling we get from this sort of film. However, her character went from bad-ass government agent to damsel in distress bloody quickly. The second she is saved, she basically shrugs her shoulders and goes: “Well, how can I not have sex with you now?” There is nothing wrong with that happening, but it needs to be far more subtle. It is almost as bad as Katee Sachoff and Riddick’s love story. Almost.
This film’s saving grace is Greg Grunberg as the hero. He is fantastic. The moment you see him on screen, you know that he isn’t going to take this movie seriously. Sure, he needs the money and has to star in rubbish like this, but he is going to go down, laughing. I like to think that the writer was being deadly serious, when he wrote the monologue about how the main hero can ‘think like a spider’. Greg Grunberg laughed at the moment and just played it for jokes. Several moments like that saved the film. Some might not like the fact that this movie is constantly telling jokes, and yes, there are moments the humour needs to take a step back, but for the most part, it totally works. When he is stalking the spider and cracking jokes, I would definitely react like that (I have, when my house got broken into, but that is a story for another day). I liked how Grunberg isn’t physically your typical hero. He has a bit of a waist, doesn’t know when to shut up and isn’t what we picture when we think of cool. Suddenly, we could all be that guy taking on the giant spider and that is perhaps the trick that makes Big Ass Spider better than it has any right to be.
Final Verdict: For a B-Movie, not bad, but still expect the terrible script, mind-blowingly dumb plot holes and a bad CGI spider doing a King Kong impression.