Ever heard of the thriller ”Pacific Air Flight 121”? Of course you haven’t, because the working title given to the project while it was in development – ”Snakes on a Plane” – became the mission statement of the movie, whipping up such online fandom it resulted in reshoots to amp up the violence, schlock and language (‘motherfucking snakes’, etc). It’s said star Samuel L Jackson insisted the movie retain the title on the script he read because it was the whole reason he signed on.
The same might have been said about ”Big Ass Spider”, except that the project was intended as a cheap B movie riot from the get go. From the Hispanic security guard comic sidekick to the inexplicably hot army female officer who falls for shlubby hero Alex (Greg Grunberg) way too fast, director Mike Mendez is prepared to sacrifice any amount of realism, narrative integrity or sense on the altar of cheap thrills (and laughs).
We start on a disconcertingly inventive slo-mo shot of exterminator Alex walking slowly down a street in downtown LA to soulful music, ashes falling down, his face black with soot and the landscape around him a warzone.
Then we cut to the titular monster, a black widow the size of an aircraft carrier attacking the upper floors of the US Bank building, and all pretense of style is jettisoned.
The creature is the result of an army experiment gone awry, and the cliches quickly pile up, from the eccentric Eurotrash scientist who created it to the no-nonsense commander (Ray Wise of ”Twin Peaks” and ”Robocop” fame) trying to contain a situation growing worse (and bigger) by the minute.
After Alex stumbles into the fray when the creature’s still only the size of a rat in a local hospital, the plot conspires to throw him in with the army goons hunting the beast down. Soon it’s up to he and his South-of-the-border Robin to save the day, the girl and LA.
The effects are far from seamless, the spider and effects it has on the environment very video game-y in most of the daylight scenes, and Mendez is far more concerned with getting to the next arachnid attack than he is with quality in the performances or script. But paying good money for a movie called Big Ass Spider automatically negates your right to complain about the result. Watch it now, it’s unlikely to get a secondary boost thanks to Oscar recognition.
DVD : SXSW Featurette, Interviews, and a funny bit where the actors talk about how they really feel about the movie’s director.