From films like Arachnophobia and Eight Legged Freaks, to literary works like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Stephen King’s It, there is something universally fascinating (and terrifying) about giant spiders. This is why the minimalistic premise of Itsy Bitsy won’t trouble director Micah Gallo or his core audience.
For the genre, the storyline ticks all the boxes: when a private nurse relocates to a small rural town to care for an elderly archaeologist, her family are soon terrorised by a sinister god (in the form of a giant spider), recently freed from a cursed artefact. It even includes a spooky, Dutch Colonial house, sceptical parents and police chiefs, cobweb-draped attics and an Alien-style creature hatching scene.
But it doesn’t surprise us with any unique quirks that make it more than a one-dimensional creature feature. Arachnophobia and Tremors, for example, indulge in dark comedy, while films like Ticks and Slither are fuelled by their faithfully gory body horror elements. Itsy Bitsy, sadly, doesn’t offer much more than its giant spider and subplots that never comfortably entwine with the main storyline. The script is arguably too earnest for its genre. Like the above examples, Gallo may have benefitted from embracing the self-deprecation and excess that can elevate or outweigh the genre’s inevitable limits.
Although Itsy Bitsy confidently builds suspense and delivers some beautifully septic special effects, there is rarely a cathartic release for its tension and arguably not enough gruesome, arachnid-centric demises. This is still occasionally eerie and entertaining viewing, but most might be left feeling like this feature could have pushed its strengths further.
14 Oct 2019