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DVD Review

DVD cover

Big Ass Spider!


Starring: Greg Grunbert, Lombardo Boyar and Ray Wise
Distributor: StudioCanal
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 23 December 2013

Alex is a professional pest exterminator who, through a client’s carelessness, gets bitten by a poisonous spider. Whilst being treated at hospital, he becomes embroiled in a sudden panic of staff. A cadaver in the morgue has split open and a huge predatory spider has emerged. The Black Ops – National Security team arrives, led by a sour-faced Major (Ray Wise), and seals-off the hospital. Alex convinces one of them to have a hospital security guard show him to the morgue to study the arachnid, but they have to track it, via the blood and devastation, to the furnace room. Here they discover the creature is quadrupling in size every few hours. It turns out this was a military experiment to cross microscopic DNA discovered in Martian rocks with Earth insect DNA (I know, spiders aren’t insects, but someone should have informed the writer of this). When the by now gigantic spider gets out into the city of Los Angeles, there is a very real danger of not only potentially many deaths, but the spider laying its eggs. When it climbs a skyscraper and begins to lay its eggs on the top floor, the Major calls an air strike. But there is a female military officer that Alex has taken a shine to, and she is cocooned in the building as ready food for the hatching spiders. He and the security guard have twenty-five minutes to rescue her and exit the building again. Can his professional knowledge help him win the day...?

The film starts just before the final scene. Everything is in slow motion. Alex comes round after being knocked unconscious and walks determinedly towards the skyscraper, whilst all around people are fleeing the other way in terror, masonry falling constantly from the huge spider’s movements. This effect has been done in movies before and can be quite tedious. However, there’s something quite compelling about the sequence. Before we know it, we have jumped back twelve hours to when Alex is making a house call on a dotty old lady. Big Ass Spider! has the structure of a B-movie, but a good one. The monster, the military, the hero, the victims and the damsel in distress are all in place; the difference is this film is both made and acted with conviction and warmth. Real heart comes through in the viewing.

There is great humour present but, unlike many movies, it doesn’t feel forced. It’s not a comedy, but the humour is allowed to evolve through the situations. The pairing of Alex (Greg Grunberg) and Jose (Lombardo Boyar) is excellent. Hospital security guard Jose attaches himself to the exterminator, scared but not wanting to miss out on the action. He calls himself the Mexican Robin to Alex’s Batman. The character of Alex is friendly to everyone but also very determined in his work. Jose cleverly deadpans reactionary comments, and the two seem like they’ve been together forever, to the extent that you’d like to see their characters progress in other stories. One of the best partnership pairings in a film since the first Tremors.

Of course, this isn’t going to win any major awards, but I think most people will enjoy Big Ass Spider! significantly more than the Hollywood nonsense that was the Godzilla film of a few years back. It’s probably the best of the spider movies to arrive so far (Arachnophobia, Eight-Legged Freaks, Spiders, Tarantula, etc.) Characterisation and plot should come first in any story, and this one has it just right. A feel good popcorn movie.


Ty Power

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