Eight Legged Freaks moves along the lines of Arachnophobia, only this time the spiders are mutated giants who sound like monkeys. Audiences either loved it or hated it. I found myself somewhere in the middle, but sharply leaning towards the 'thumbs down' position.
A barrel of toxic waste accidentally falls out of a truck and lands in the community pond and contaminates everything in it. Near the lake is a small spider farm that cages roughly 200 spiders just waiting to be released. The spider keeper (Tom Noonan), is somehow bitten by one of them, and manages to knock over every cage during his frantic seizure that houses the arachnids. It will only a matter of time before all of the spiders become contaminated and take over the city.
Ellory Elkayem gets a pass for having such a simplistic and un-original story because this movie was clearly intended to be a spoof of the cheesy monster movies that surfaced in the fifties. His comedic approach surprisingly works and forcibly entertains you, even if only for a few minutes. I would have been fine staying along for the entire ride, but too many elements made me frown.
Deciding on whether Eight Legged Freaks is more of a comedy or a horror movie is hard to tell. For starters, David Arquette takes on the head role as Chris McCormack, a loser engineer who came back to the small hick town of Prosperity, Arizona, to mend fences with the sheriff, Sam Parker, and of course to fall in love with her. Sam Parker also happens to be the mother of an annoying little boy (Scott Terra) who knows more about spiders than anyone else, but can't do anything about it because he is a kid, and well you just don't believe kids. If it isn't enough that I have grown tired of seeing the town's fate in every movie in the hands of a child, I have really grown tired of seeing nobody respect that kid until they will be forced to listen to him in the end. A boy who has his bedroom walls covered with spider posters deserves a little credibility despite his age. But no. All throughout, he is basically told to , "be quiet honey, mommy is talking to grown-ups." Welcome to Prosperity, where a spider outbreak is funny, and David Arquette is a grown-up.
Mommy the sheriff is also the mother of a daughter (Scarlett Johansson) who's been fooling around with the Mayor's son. (It's one of those small towns where everybody knows everybody. It's also one of those towns that is extremely boring and lifeless. Oh yeah, it's also one of those downs run by a greedy and corrupt Mayor that makes you wonder how he ever got elected in the first place).
It is considerably sad that the plot of this movie centers around a child who knows the habits of spiders and must be the one to guide the town to safety after itís been completely ransacked and taken over by the mutated spiders, but that's how it goes. While the son is preoccupied, learning about spiders, the daughter is given lessons by her been-there-done-that mom of a sheriff and is given a laser-stun gun just in case. Just in case for what, you ask? To keep horny teenagers away who might try to get in her pants. But in the town of Prosperity, and in a movie titled "Eight Legged Freaks" I'm sure you'll come up with a better way in which that stun gun will come in handy later on.
The characters are so plain and bland, that you could care less about them when they become food for the spiders. It's actually funny at times to see how some of the victims are stupid enough to walk right into them. There is a long scene where a bunch of teenage dirt bikers try to outrun the spiders. It got so tedious, the excitement began to quickly wear off. As a director, you have to know when to stop. But I could tell that Elkayem was having fun with that CGI intensive scene. But it was like the racing scene in Star Wars Episode One, it was too long. Every time you blink, another biker gets devoured. I guess those kids must have skipped physics class when they should have been taught that the shortest distance and ultimately the fastest path is a straight line. But these bikers alternatively chose to ramp off of mountains as if they were competing in the Olympics. Unless a graceful death by steering into the mouth of mutated spider is worth anything, those kids were dumb as bricks.
Decent special effects bring the spiders to life who enjoy feasting on every domestic animal in the town just as much as they enjoy humans. But why? I can understand why they'd want to wipe out the human population, but I didn't connect with Elkayem's obsession with showing animals vanishing off screen. At one point in the film, you see ostriches get what was coming to them. They belonged to the mayor, strangely. Besides to be eaten by spiders, is there another reason to own prized ostriches?
The spiders looked cool, but their strengths were too inconsistent. It's a syndrome that must be terminal in the producers who also brought us the Godzilla remake. Remember that abomination? Godzilla towered the tallest skyscrapers in some scenes, then was magically small enough to fit inside tunnels. In Eight Legged Freaks, the beasts could punch through steel walls, yet struggled to get inside a fortified shopping mall.
I won't lie, there were a few edgy scenes and suspenseful parts, but it came down to being silly and predictable. Was it maybe a little fun? Sure why not, but it still wasn't worth the ticket price. Few people will appreciate Elkayem's attempt to satirize the genre of mutating monsters in such a goofy way. As I said earlier, this is either a hit or a miss. Everyone will have a different opinion. If I had to give a recommendation to my cloned twin, I would say, "pass."