Big-Ass Spider! Mike Mendez

Big-Ass Spider! Mike Mendez
Mike Mendez's Big-Ass Spider! is laudatory for having the guts to try being a decent film when ludicrous brethren like Sharknado have been content to coast on "intentional" incompetence and ridiculously on-the-nose titles. Yes, it's all a bunch of silliness but that doesn't mean it has to be poorly made.

The only production issues hindering this farcical monster flick are the result of financial constraints and still, the titular jumbo rump arachnid looks more convincing than the majority of its truly cheap B-movie peers.

This praise isn't meant to suggest that such an admittedly slight adventure is a transcendent movie but it's safe to call it the reigning champion of its kind. Moreover, is surely the best eight-legged horror comedy since Arachnophobia (kiss a spinneret, Eight-Legged Freaks). Demonstrating a love of goofy genre cinema without sacrificing the respectability of his work as a competent director, Mendez has sure footing on the tenuous line between telling a joke and being the joke.

The presence of Ray Wise (he'll always be Leyland Palmer to me) and Greg Grunberg (the telepath from Heroes) signify that this is a production at least above the level of Sharktopus. Grunberg stars as a compassionate exterminator (the compassionate part goes out the window as soon as he faces an acid-spitting spider the size of a rhino) with a poor track record with the ladies but a positive attitude towards putting himself out there. When he gets bitten by a poisonous critter during a house call with a kooky old lady (Lin Shaye), Alex Mathis (Grunberg) winds up in a local hospital, which just so happens to be ground zero for a silk-spinning military experimental gone monstrously wrong.

To ensure we know what we're getting into, Mendez starts things off with a dramatic slow motion scene of enormous arachnid carnage from near the film's climax before rewinding twelve hours to contextualize. From there, we watch the irrepressible everyman battle an exponentially growing super spider, hit on smart, strong women in positions of authority, and get brow-beaten and belittled by a stern military Major (Wise), all with the aid of a Mexican security guard (for cheap ethnicity-based comic relief).

Inherently, there isn't much originality or depth to gimmicky projects like this, so what helps Mendez's silly creature feature rise to the top of the crap stack is his insistence that these limitations need not stand in the way of putting effort into creating a consistently entertaining, professionally made film that doesn't take itself seriously in any way but its construction. (Epic)