Film (2002). Warner Brothers Pictures presents in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment an Electric Entertainment Production. Directed by Ellory Elkayem. Produced by Dean Devlin and Bruce Berman. Written by Jesse Alexander, Ellory Elkayem from a story by Elkayem and Randy Kornfield. Cast includes David Arquette, Doug E Doug, Scarlett Johansson, Scott Terra and Kari Wuhrer. 99 minutes. Colour.
This likeable Monster Movie was the professional movie debut of a comparatively young (born 1970) New Zealander, Ellory Elkayem. The story of a small mining town in the desert menaced by a great many giant spiders is wholly (and consciously) derivative, even in quite small details, of the monster movies of half a century before. Also familiar is the moral-fable element, in which greed, lust and so forth among the town's inhabitants get a spider-mediated comeuppance. The computer-generated spiders are pretty good, even scary, but the scare-quotient is somewhat compromised by a cheerfulness in the scripting (also Elkayem) that leaves nearly all the major characters still alive at the end.
It is not clear whether this very self-aware film is intended as homage or Postmodernist deconstruction. Either way, there seems no point to it beyond the provision of a rather safe sort of roller-coaster ride. But the dialogue is well-written and amusing, the young hero played by Scott Terra (a pre-teen nerd who knows more than anyone else in town about spiders) is charming, the spiders are cool and the whole thing is enjoyably watchable. [PN]
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