Review: Big Ass Spider! / Cert: 15 / Director: Mike Mendez / Screenplay: Gregory Gieras / Starring: Greg Grunberg, Ray Wise, Claire Kramer, Lombardo Boyer / Release Date: December 23rd
You’ll probably gather that Big Ass Spider! isn’t the subtlest movie ever made. In its most basic terms, it concerns a spider which is distinctly ‘bad ass’ and which escapes the usual collection of worried-looking military grunts and anxious boffins and sets about wrecking Los Angeles and killing some (often busty) locals. But it’s a slightly schizophrenic movie too; chunky former Heroes star Greg Grunberg plays the same sort of luckless schmuck he portrayed in last year’s agreeable TV movie The End of the World – this time he’s a portly pest exterminator – but the violence is graphic and gruesome and almost entirely at odds with Grunberg’s slapstick bumblings and the film’s inept attempts at goofball comedy.
The plot is actually pretty much the same as last month’s Spiders 3D, with the military and scientific communities in a tailspin when an arachnid whose DNA they’ve spliced with a recovered alien organism cuts loose and starts to grow exponentially, quadrupling its size every few hours. Grunberg’s Alex is on hand at a local hospital when the spider escapes from a corpse it’s devoured from the inside out, and before long he’s teamed up with the American military's finest to track down the pesky spider before it can escape into the city. Whoops too late, there it goes…
When the creature, now swollen to enormous proportions, sets out on its rampage across the city, it all gets a bit graphic as victims are speared, ripped apart and devoured. But it’s all at odds with Grunberg’s tiresome comedy partnership with hapless hospital porter Jose (Boyas) and the script just seems to think it’s enough to have the pair pull faces and behave like brainless dorks instead of giving them anything actually funny to say or do. Fortunately there’s plenty of distraction courtesy of some decent special effects – the spider’s King Kong routine atop a skyscraper is particularly effective – and the weak script’s deficiencies are made up for by some sturdy production values and Mendez’ occasionally inventive direction.
Big Ass Spider! is schlocky nonsense, marginally better than Spiders 3D by virtue of its more accomplished and ambitious effects sequences, and at a tight seventy-five minutes it doesn’t outstay its welcome. This is one giant spider you really won’t mind inviting into your home.