Arachnoquake (2012)

Arachnoquake (2012)

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Yeah, that's the level of quality we're looking at.
Yeah, that’s the level of quality we’re looking at.

Twitter Plot Summary: An earthquake releases a swarm of spiders, large and small, onto the streets of New Orleans.

Genre: Sci-Fi

Director: Griff Furst

Key Cast: Tracey Gold, Edward Furlong, Bug Hall, Ethan Phillips, Tiara Ashleigh, Megan Adelle, Grant Johnson,

Five Point Summary:

1. Bad CGI spiders within 2 minutes of the start. This bodes well.
2. Moonwalking towards a hole in the ground? Clever.
3. Making the cheerleaders push the crashed bus. I like it.
4. Clearly ripping off Deep Blue Sea there…
5. See now, this is why fracking is bad – it causes earthquakes and releases mutant spiders!

A whimsical tone is established immediately with lighthearted music and some jovial banter between some blue collar workers. Then we get our first glimpse of one of the spiders that will take centre stage in this tale of a small town. From this point forward you know it’s going to be bad, bad, bad from start to finish.

I will consider the film seriously though, because otherwise this will end up being the movie review equivalent of a character assassination. There are two narrative strands for our central characters. The first is between 30 year old Paul (Hall) and his father (Ethan Phillips). Paul is what one would call a playboy, parting and sleeping with women much to his father’s chagrin. On this half of the story it’s about this childish man learning to take responsibility for his life. On the other side is Edward Furlong and Tracey Gold. He’s the absent father who is supposed to be joining his family on a bus tour of New Orleans when he has to, at the last minute, drive a bus of cheerleaders somewhere instead, all because his colleague is riddled with sores and spider bites. So there’s a clear story there for him to pay more attention to his family and… actually, he only decides he can’t go on the tour because of a genuine emergency, so other than making a point that he’s not always there for his wife and kids I don’t think he did anything wrong.

"Hi, I'm Ed Furlong. I was famous once."
“Hi, I’m Ed Furlong. I was famous once.”

The CGI, being as atrocious as it is, means the spiders always look like they’ve been added afterwards. I mean, obviously they have, but they stand out even more so you can’t help but laugh at them. I know TV movie budgets are low, but if you can’t make the spiders look good then you either resort to practical effects or don’t bother. It’s a shame too because the acting isn’t too bad at all. Ethan Phillips (Neelix in Star Trek Voyager) is a welcome addition to the cast, even if he only has a brief role. Edward Furlong on the other hand is a clear indication of how the mighty have fallen. Based on his personal life it’s mostly his own fault, but seeing as his last major role was American History X in 1998, or Detroit Rock City in 1999 if you’re feeling generous, he really has gone a long way down the list in the intervening years. He’s also not very good, but that might be more to do with the role rather than anything else. I’d have to see him in something else before I can make an honest assessment.

It’s also not particularly scary, unless you have a seriously bad phobia of spiders. If so, you’ll either be petrified of the CGI monstrosities or be laughing along with the rest of us. The story is basic creature horror 101, there’s nothing original about the setup, the ensuing events or the characters, and it all plays out exactly as you would expect. Including character deaths, as it happens. Logic seems to take a back seat to ensuring a good number of people are bumped off by the spiders, who for no apparent reason also develop the ability to breathe fire. Of course, being a stock copy of every other film where nature is out to kill you, and having previously established the stories with Bug Hall and Edward Furlong’s characters, we also know exactly how it’s going to end. Surprises here and there would have helped, but where these films are concerned surprises are the last thing you want. For established film fans there’s a number of homages and references to other, better science fiction movies of days gone by (a bit of Aliens, a bit of Deep Blue Sea) so you can probably make a game out of that, but otherwise it’s standard fare. It’s on par with the usual movies released by the SyFy Channel TV, and you know what? Sometimes that’s enough.

Favourite scene: The Deep Blue Sea moment.

Quote: “Jumbo spiders, some as big as dwarves!”

Silly Moment: Other than the giant spiders? Where they head into the spider’s lair underground and recreate the finale from Aliens, but with more people.

Score: 1.5/5

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