What do the films SNAKES ON A PLANE, SHARKNADO, MEGA SHARK VS. GIANT OCTOPUS have in common? The plots of these three films can be summed up just by their titles alone. Personally I like when a film pretty much spells out what it is going to be about by title, especially if it is a creature feature like the ones I mentioned before. That way I know what type of film to expect. When I first heard about the sci-fi/horror/comedy BIG ASS SPIDER!, I knew I had to check it out sure just based on the title alone. Having now seen the film, did it manage to live up to the epicness of its title? In a way, it does.
The film tells the story of Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg), an average normal guy who loves his job as being a pet exterminator in Los Angeles. However things change for him one day when a giant alien spider manages to escape from a military lab and attack the city. When the army fails to destroy it, Alex teams up with a group of scientists (and as well as a security guard named Jose Ramos, played by Lombardo Boyer) to stop the giant alien spider once and for all.
After reading the synopsis, you can definitely tell what type of film BIG ASS SPIDER! is going to be. Yes it is very silly, cheesy, over-the-top, cheap and mindless monster film that is in no way a quote unquote *good* film by any means but as part of creature feature sub-genre, it’s an okay and reasonably enjoyable film that doesn’t take itself seriously at all. Plus it knows exactly what type of film it is and embraces it whole heartedly while at the same time poking fun at itself and other films of the genre (particularly a lot of the SyFy Channel/Asylum films that have been made over the last few years). It’s tricky tone to get right for a film like this but Mike Mendez does a good job to make it work and as well as be fun. You can tell definitely tell that he does have a love for this sub-genre while watching it. I really enjoyed all the horror film references that he makes during the film (the mains one being that the soldiers are named after recent horror directors and there was a scene that I felt was homage to ALIENS) and even though it was made on a very low-budget, I did like that he tried to make it as cinematic as possible.
One of element that I dug about the film is, and unlike other films of its type, that it has a pretty solid cast at the centre of it. Greg Grunberg (an actor who I’ve liked since appearing on the 90’s show FELICITY) gives a really likable and charismatic performance as “Alex”, the character is surprisingly well-developed and he is definitely having a lot of fun playing the role. He great onscreen chemistry with co-star Lombardo Boyer, who provides a lot of the film’s funniest moments and a great job with his performance too. Also the supporting cast (which includes Ray Wise, Clare Kramer, Lin Shaye and Patrick Bauchau) were solid in their roles as well. Another thing that impressed me about the film was the giant alien spider itself. While I’m not going to say that it’s the best special effects creation ever made but for a low-budget production of this type, it’s actually pretty decent. I wouldn’t be surprised if the filmmakers made effort to make the creature look as good as they possibly can since it is the star of the film and all.
In terms of negatives while there is a lot that could be said about the direction, the script, the dialogue and the special effects but they didn’t really bother me too much at all and honestly they even added to my enjoyment of it, so I can forgive on those grounds since this is what I believe the film was going for in the first place. But that is not to say that there weren’t any elements that I didn’t work in the film. I wish that the some aspects script could have been a much stronger and tried to do a bit more with its premise instead of taking a pretty straight forward approach (that way it would have made stand out more among other recent low-budget monster films). Plus while the film can be witty at times, I did feel that some of the humour (particularly the satirical elements) felt really forced and some jokes just fell flat.
Overall while BIG ASS SPIDER! isn’t the greatest film of its type that you’ll ever see but it’s still a solid film that I quite enjoyed nonetheless. If you enjoy watching silly fun giant monster films or creature features, I’d say it is worth a watch.
– Bede Jermyn