You have to admire Spiders for its gumption. On what must have been a very limited budget, director Tibor Takacs (The Gate) goes for the gold, setting the creature feature in New York City and having it culminate with a giant queen spider rampaging through city streets. Pluck, in and of itself, however, does not automatically lead to the desired result, and Takacs is unable to align ambition and execution.
On an ordinary, hectic day in Lower Manhattan, Jason Cole (Patrick Muldoon) is overseeing operation of the city’s subway system. The expected chaos of being a supervisor for the transit authority is abruptly interrupted by falling debris from an abandoned Russian space station. One of Jason’s subordinates soon discovers that the debris has occupants, and they are not peaceful.
Jason’s ex-wife Rachel (Christa Campbell), conveniently a health inspector for NYC, discovers eggs in the dead subway worker’s body. An investigation of the damage in the subway uncovers a nest of spiders. It doesn’t take long for the military to spring into action and quarantine the blocks surrounding the crash site. While they claim that a lethal virus has broken out, Jason and Rachel know the truth. Together they elude the military while desperately trying to rescue their daughter, who is in the middle of the quarantined area.
A Russian doctor and a military Colonel exchange dialogue that alerts viewers to the reason for lying. They are protecting a top secret project that attempted to use a queen spider’s eggs to produce some sort of bulletproof material. Now a horde of killer spiders is on the loose including the absolutely enormous queen that’s more than 5 stories tall.
A perfectly workable setup for something like this. Nothing fancy, nothing too convoluted. It’s too bad then that it takes so long for anything of note to happen, and when it finally does, it’s too little and too late.
The spiders don’t leave the nest and attack until Spiders is more than half over. That means there’s a whole lot of talking and explaining and exploring the crash site (as well as Jason and Rachel’s squabbling). It’s pretty slow going for almost 50 minutes, which would be okay if the payoff was better. But it isn’t.
While watching helicopters shoot at a huge spider as it destroys a city street has its charm, it is over all too quick and doesn’t amount to much. That applies to all of the spider attacks in the movie. For some reason the rating is PG-13. How many viewers under the age of 17 are really clamoring to check out Spiders? Nearly all of the spider attacks occur off-screen, and the ones that don’t are toothless and over before they start. The lack of spider carnage is disappointing.
The aforementioned limited budget proves constraining as well. The movie was filmed entirely at a studio in Bulgaria. The studio backlot features a New York setting that looks as much like New York as a street scene in Seinfeld. All of the mayhem, including the queen’s path of destruction, appears to take place on the same block. It just isn’t remotely convincing. Every single second looks like a studio backlot.
Ultimately, that is not what prevents Spiders from succeeding. Though the filmmakers set out to make nothing more than a fun B movie, they fall short when it comes to showcasing the titular stars. There’s simply not enough preposterous spider havoc on display. They remain on the sidelines for too long, and when they finally do get a chance to play, nothing all that special happens.
Spiders will be released in select theaters and Premium VOD on February 8th prior to its DVD/VOD release on March 12th.