Eight Legged Freaks Review
The fifties' B-Movie has seen many retreads over the years, including the delicious Tim Burton parody Mars Attacks! and the spectacle of Independence Day, and yet none are more blatant in their influences than Eight Legged Freaks, a film that ideally would have seen its audience filter in at a drive-in cinema.
The plot tells of the story of a small mining town who are forced to fight for the lives after a small batch of 'engineered' spiders with increased powers are exposed to a chemical spill which increases their size to scary proportions. Soon, the spiders are terrorising the inhabitants, and it's up to the locals, lead by female sheriff Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer) and town visitor Chris McCormack (David Arquette) to save the day.
Eight Legged Freaks starts life quite promisingly, considering it is set in an arid, desert-like surrounding, which helps evoke the true spirit of the B-movie classics. The characters are all stilted stereotypes. Sam Parker is both too young and too attractive to ever be taken seriously as the town's sheriff, and David Arquette is too much of a wimp to ever be taken seriously as the hard-man-hero of the film, and yet somehow they both seem to fit at the film's narrative centre easily.
The spiders are very scary indeed, or at least they should have been, had the producers not decided to give them a kind of emotional expression range in which they shriek, laugh and become anxious, as if the film is trying to hard to imitate the aliens in Mars Attacks! and also not alienate the younger market. The eight-legged villains still look convincing, and will clearly fuel any viewer's arachnophobic tendencies, even if they could have been a lot scarier.
The main problem with the film is that it doesn't know where to go once the spiders turn up. For the first half, the director Ellory Elkayem handles events in a confident fashion, setting up the anticipation for the second half. However, when the spiders start attacking on a large scale, the excitement, pace and interest are all destroyed, and the film becomes a tired effort in which each scene has nothing to offer other than a display of a few humans running away from their tormentors.
Essentially, Eight Legged Freaks is all surface and no depth, it lacks a screenplay that can champion the spirit of the B-movie genre whilst simultaneously pushing it towards new boundaries, and it lacks characters that require the audience to care. It may pay tribute to its genre, but nowadays B-movies aren't enough to attract the paying audience. Eight Legged Freaks certainly has an audience, but it may have to wait fifty years to find it.