Reviews | Written by John Higgins 09/11/2017

IT CAME FROM THE DESERT

Fun-film-of-the-day in this year’s Halloween Frightfest all-dayer was undoubtedly It Came From the Desert, a Canadian-Finnish-British co-production.

Effectively fusing elements from all manner of classic giant bug films from the past, including THEM!, Eight Legged Freaks, and a past-Frightfest favourite, Infestation, the film doesn’t waste time with its intention. It is based on the cult Cinemaware video game from the 1980s and utilises all sorts of hip culture references throughout.

Two brothers, Lukas (Alex Mills) and Brian (Harry Lister Smith) are heading to a desert beer and bike party. Brian is a bit geeky, but a dab hand with fixing older brother Brian’s motocross bike, but the two of them have a crush on local girl Lisa (Vanessa Grasse), who Brian offers a lift on the way to what turns out to be a celebration of Brian’s champion bike abilities. Lukas walks away from the party to the annoyance of Brian, but when they catch up overlooking a cliff, they discover a cave which leads to a test facility, where a deadly secret awaits them and the locality…

At times you might think It Came from the Desert is a by-the-numbers affair, but this type of film certainly does the business every time it is produced. In terms of visual style, it reminds one of the likes of recent hits like Piranha 3D, though not with the extent or level of gore. Its heart remains in the 1970s affairs like The Giant Spider Invasion and Kingdom of the Spiders (a highly recommended William Shatner spider thriller from 1977).

The young leads are certainly impressive and convincing as the American,s and it is another great showcase for Grasse, who shone in Leatherface at the summer Frightfest this year. Scientists have pointed out on occasion on the plausibility of whether giant ants could exist in the logistics of nature since the release of Them! in the 1950s, but the release of Jurassic Park and the ongoing development of computer-generated imagery has made all manner of ideas achievable in the film-making process. If you are into your bikes in a big way, then there are some great visually choreographed sequences using the bikes, particularly during one chase sequence with the giant ants in pursuit.

Ultimately, whether this film rises and falls with the audience is based on how well it knows it. Most films have to maintain a balance of horror and humour to succeed in the genre and this film doesn’t rely as much on the bloodshed to make its mark with the intention. The fun is always watching seemingly courageous youths fall apart when faced with adversity like this in classic form. Miles and Smith evoke memories of Kevin Bacon and Fred   Ward in cult favourite Tremors and, like Grasse, are promising British talent.

IT CAME FROM THE DESERT / CERT: TBD  / DIRECTOR: MARKO MAKILAAKSO  / SCREENPLAY:  TRENT HAAGA, MARKO MAKILAAKSO / STARRING:  MARK ARNOLD, VANESSA GRASSE, CLAUDIA TRUJILLO,/ RELEASE DATE: 28TH OCTOBER (FRIGHTFEST LONDON)