Eye For Film >> Movies >> Itsy Bitsy (2019) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Are you scared of spiders? They're (mostly) only little and they don't mean any harm. They catch lots of pests, they have folkloric connections with good luck, and, so this film would have it, they can teach you about the meaning of family.
When the local sheriff (Denise Crosby) sees Kara (Elizabeth Roberts) having a panic attack in a café, she invites her to talk about what's wrong, but Kara doesn't want to talk to anybody. She's avoided meaningful conversation ever since losing her son in a car accident. The weight of her unprocessed grief makes her prone to lashing out and has, so it's implied, cost her a series of nursing jobs. Now, in this remote area, she hopes to get some peace and quiet whilst providing home-based care to former explorer and collector of rare antiquities Walter (Bruce Davison), who has multiple sclerosis. Her surviving son, Jesse (Arman Darbo), doesn't have much faith in her managing not to screw it up. Though he's barely adolescent, he's providing full time care for his little sister Cambria (Chloe Perrin), and he doesn't seem to be going to school. Being around Walter is an unexpected boon, the old man's stories giving him a window on the world. But there are dark things in some of those stories, and a sinister artefact recently delivered to the mansion could put them all in danger.
There's great potential in the family drama at the heart of this film, to the point where one wonders if this constituted the whole of the original script and the vengeance-seeking spider goddess was added later. Yes, you read that right: vengeance-seeking spider goddess. Or at least, that's what we're told she is. She just looks like a spider. Big enough to be officially monstrous but still small enough to hide under the bed, where she seems to spend most of her time. There are flashbacks to ancient rituals and greedy, murderous archaeologists. There's talk of the need for a human sacrifice to set the balance right. The spider goddess seems to ave all eight of her eyes fixed firmly on little Cambria, and Jesse just can't be there to watch over her 100% of the time.
It's unfortunate that so much rests on Cambria's peril when Perrin's acting is the film's weakest link. One gets the impression that the girl - who has a lengthy list of past work for her age - is not incapable but simply hasn't been given the directorial support she needs. Some of her scenes are just embarrassing to watch and make it impossible to engage properly with the rest of the film. Darbo, by contrast, is impressive, especially in scenes where we see how weary Jesse's life experience has made him. He has a plum role and handles it well, and it is to be hoped that the film's problems won't lead to the quality of his contribution being overlooked.
What emerges is a rather confused drama in which Kara runs around getting overemotional in whatever random way is most convenient to the plot whilst Jesse tries to save the day. There are a couple of nice little breaks with formula, with Walter permitted an unusual amount of dignity for a disabled character and the Sheriff actually listening to Jesse when he seeks her help, but the whole thing ultimately descends into an incoherent mish-mash of familial redemption and spider combat. Decent special effects are let down by fuzzy visuals (arguably justified by the plot but still overused) and poor quality sound work. You'll have to be pretty seriously arachnophobic to begin with to be scared by this one.
Itsy Bitsy will be available on Sky Store, iTunes and UK digital platforms from 14th October.Reviewed on: 03 Oct 2019
If you like this, try:Arachnoquake