Arachnoquake

*

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Things perk up briefly during a doomed attempt to defend a supermarket with bug spray, and there's an entertaining water-based chase, but little else to get excited about."

Some places just never seem to get a break. Having clawed its way back from the damage done by Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans here finds itself falling prey to another kind of disaster. It begins with an earthquake, but earthquakes in the region are not generally much to write home about, so no-one really worries. This time, however, the earthquake has been caused not by subduction but by fracking, and has disturbed dangerous underground dwellers as new technology has been wont to do throughout B-movie history. When they reach the surface, local residents find themselves in real trouble.

Giant spiders have long had a special place in the history of film, ever since Clint Eastwood's early appearance fighting a deadly Tarantula, but their capacity to scare is limited - Arachnophobia made a much stronger impression with its hordes of small spiders, as these seem to trigger more people's instinctive fears. Arachnoquake tries to have it both ways, but its smaller critters are still too big to really hit the spot, especially as they're lavender coloured so they really can't sneak up on anyone. To compensate, they are given the power to breathe fire. Quite how this would be useful to them underground is not explained.

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It gets sillier, and by the end of the film you'll be longing for Aliens' Vasquez to turn up and state "Bees, man. Bees have hives!" but then again, it's unlikely you'd be watching a film called Arachnoquake in the first place if you were worried about accuracy. Where a film like this needs to deliver is OTT action. Here that centres on three scenarios: tour guide Paul (Bug Hall) and his bus full of tourists; Paul's father and sister on their swamp-cruising tour boat; and Charlie (Edward Furlong), whose wife is on the tour bus, randomly driving a female baseball team into a tree.

In the wake of Speed and The Faculty, there are few bus-based action possibilities that have not been explored, and Arachnoquake doesn't even try. Things perk up briefly during a doomed attempt to defend a supermarket with bug spray, and there's an entertaining water-based chase, but little else to get excited about. Still, the film does make up for its screaming teenage girls by having several level-headed and incisive female characters, one of whom has to save Furlong, who looks really rough these days - showing this film alongside Terminator 2 in schools could be an effective replacement for existing don't do drugs programmes. This falls down a little when Paul's sister (Olivia Hardt), one of the most competent characters, is kidnapped by the queen spider just to facilitate the action.

With an ending that must have looked great on paper but flops due to weak acting and rubbish special effects, Arachnoquake is definitely in the Must Try Harder category. It's an exploitation movie that falls far short of exploiting its full potential.

Reviewed on: 13 Apr 2014
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An earthquake releases fire-breathing, rapidly growing spiders onto the streets of New Orleans.

Director: Griff Furst

Writer: Eric Forsberg, Paul A. Birkett

Starring: Megan Adelle, Gralen Bryant Banks, Paul Boocock, Edward Furlong, Tiara Ashleigh, Tracey Gold, Bug Hall

Year: 2012

Runtime: 86 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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