BIG ASS SPIDER! (2013)
L.A. exterminator Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg, who also produced) is about to have the case of his career as a spider bite on a routine job sends him to the hospital where, at the same time, a corpse containing a gestating, genetically-altered spider has been accidentally shipped there by a military snafu. Once the spider breaks free and bites a doctor, Alex sees a way out of his own medical bill and vows to hunt it down. But as he and hospital security guard Jose (Lombardo Boyar, who steals every scene he’s in) chase the large arachnid through the vents and lower levels, the military show up, including hard nosed Major Tanner (Ray Wise) and sexy Lt. Brant (Clare Kramer), and lock down the hospital to ensure the re-capture of their experiment with alien DNA gone awry. But the spider is not only intelligent, but getting larger with each victim and soon escapes into the sewers. Now Alex, who’s become smitten with Lt. Brant, vows to stop the ever growing arachnid and save the day,but the Big Ass Spider has other ideas as it attacks L.A. in search of prey.
As directed by Mike Mendez (Gravedancers, The Convent), from a script by Gregory Gieras, this giant arachnid on the loose flick is a fun B-Movie that decides to take it’s premise and have a good time with it. At no time does it take itself seriously as it rolls out the kind of nature run amok story that has been done since the 50s. Mendez directs a lively cast who have fun with their parts, but take them seriously enough so it’s not a total joke. Grunberg gives us the typical legend-in-his-own-mind lead and makes a good team with Boyar who has a blast as the Latino security guard who wants to be a hero. Ray Wise plays his part very straight and it works that his soldier is able to talk about giant spiders and alien DNA with a completely straight face. Clare Kramer is fun as the tough-as-nails, but still sexy Lt. Karly Brant and she also has good chemistry with Grunberg. Sadly a plot device puts her in peril and the two are separated for most of the last act. It would have been nice to see her go all Ellen Ripley instead of web ensnared damsel. Add a cameo by Lin Shaye as one of Mathis’ eccentric customers and you have a fun cast having a good time with the outlandish material. As for our star, the CGI FX portraying the spider are serviceable enough as is the depiction of it’s carnage, especially when it goes all King Kong to lay it’s eggs at the top of a skyscraper. The film is not perfect. The slapstick humor doesn’t always work and sometimes clashes with the more serious attempts at horror and one wonders if maybe Mendez should have taken a page from the Corman book and played this a bit more serious and let the material provide the fun, it might have flowed more smoothly. I like Mendez as a director, he has a cool visual style, but will admit his attempts to mix humor and horror sometimes provide mixed results and an uneven tone. At least here he maintains the tone fairly well and only dips into horror when he needs to give his monster menace.
Overall, Big Ass Spider is fun, but not as loopy a good time as the infamous Sharknado. The FX do the job well enough and the cast seems to be having a good time and so it translates to the audience. Not a great or memorable movie, but it is a fun throwback to the 50s giant bug movies with a modern sense of humor and you could do far worse for a night on the couch. Too bad they stuck to a PG-13 rating as this could have been a fun, gory mess had they really took the 8 legged ball and ran with it.
3 (out of 4) big ass spiders.