Monday, June 8, 2015

#1,757. Big Ass Spider! (2013)

Directed By: Mike Mendez

Starring: Greg Grunberg, Ray Wise, Lombardo Boyar

Line from the film: "Let's do it for the kids!"

Trivia: Troma's Lloyd Kaufman makes a cameo appearance in this film, playing a jogger

Well, no mystery as to what this movie’s about, is there?

Exterminator Alex Mathis (Greg Grunberg) spends his day off helping his best customer, Mrs. Jefferson (Lin Shaye), with her rodent problem. But what he thought would be a quick job takes an unexpected turn when he’s bitten on the arm by a Brown Recluse spider, which forces him to seek treatment at a nearby hospital. While he’s there, the hospital has a little spider “event” of their own when a mortician (Ruben Pla) is attacked by a humongous arachnid that crawled out of a dead man’s body. Sensing an opportunity to have his bill cleared, Alex tells the facility’s administrator (Bob Bledsoe) that he’ll gladly kill the pesky spider before it has a chance to bother anyone else. Aided by José (Lombardo Boyar), the hospital’s security guard, Alex begins his search for the unwelcome insect, unaware that, on the floor above, the United States military, under the command of Major Braxton Tanner (Ray Wise) and Lieutenant Karly Brant (Clare Kramer), has just placed the entire facility under quarantine.

It seems this particular spider was the result of a scientific experiment gone wrong, which means this is no ordinary bug that Alex is tracking. In fact, it’s the most advanced insect the world has ever seen, one that will grow exponentially, killing and devouring hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people in the process. Despite it being a matter of national security, Alex (who’s developed a crush on Lieutenant Brant) still intends to help out by killing the spider, but when the bug breaks free and starts attacking Los Angeles, neither he nor the military have any idea how to stop it.

In a way, Big Ass Spider reminded me of 2009’s Infestation, another comedy / sci-fi blend in which big bugs try to take over the world. And like that movie, the lead character in Big Ass Spider is the source of most of the film’s humor. As portrayed by Grunberg, Alex is a likeable, though somewhat dense exterminator who’s always willing to lend a hand, even when he has no idea what he’s up against. Also quite good is Lombardo Boyar, who plays Alex’s constant sidekick, José, a guy every bit as naïve as his new friend (though warned by the military not to interfere, Alex and José decide to look for the spider in a nearby park, and are sorry they did so when the creature, now as big as a house, actually shows up). Along with the jokes, Big Ass Spider has moments that’ll both make you jump (the scene where the spider first appears in the morgue generates plenty of tension) and turn away in disgust (while in the sewers, the spider encounters a homeless man played by Adam Gierasch, at which point we learn just how potent the monstrous bug’s venom truly is).

Toss in solid supporting performances by Clare Kramer, as well as Ray Wise and Lin Shaye (who, despite playing a married couple in 2003’s Dead End, don’t appear together in this film); a cameo by Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman (as a jogger with bad timing); and a giant spider that, more often than not, looks convincing (only once or twice did the CGI seem sketchy), and you have a movie that’s more fun than a picture titled Big Ass Spider has any right being.

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