To say I have a fear of spiders would be an understatement. Unlike some though my fear isn't paralyzing, I just want to see the little things dead. So needless to say when I saw that Arachnophobia was on Netflix, I was a little hesitant to give it a watch. I have seen bits and pieces of the film before, but never the entire thing in one sitting. I decided to give it a go and see how far I could make it.
Plot: A large spider from the jungles of South America is accidentally transported in a crate with a dead body to America where it mates with a local spider. Soon after, the residents of a small California town begin to die as the result of spider bites from the deadly spider offspring. It's up to a couple of doctors with the help of an insect exterminator to annihilate these eight legged freaks before they take over the entire town.
The plot is as ridiculous as it sounds, but its so over the top that it works. In the same way that “Jaws” made us afraid to go into the ocean, Arachnophobia taps into the common fear of spiders for its scares. While the film is more in the vein of “Gremlins”, with its thrills being mixed with humor, it's still a scary tale at heart. I can honestly say though, while this film did feature spiders, they are featured in a way that really doesn't make them all that terrifying. It's a classic man vs nature story that was done well in the early 90's, before it became the common route to go with B movies
The acting here is the real bright spot of the film. Not only do you have the always outstanding Jeff Daniels, but you also have the consistently great John Goodman. Both men were perfect for their roles, and brought more life into the film. My only gripe with Goodman's performance was that he seemed to be channeling Bill Murray's character from “Caddyshack” a little too much. Other actors in this film include the underrated Julian Sands, Harley Jane Kozak and Stuart Pankin.
So you may say “how could someone with a fear of spiders watch a movie about spiders? “ well that's one of the funny things about this movie. It has jump scares and plenty of scary scenes, but the acting and comedy offsets it to the point where the spiders aren't so frightening. As I said, this film is in the same vein as Gremlins, where it's supposed to be scary but because of how its pulled off it's more fun than frightening. It's a rare thing when you can see something you don't like being the central focus of a film, but due to the nature of the film find yourself not even being bothered by it.
So all in all, I can say that I found this film to be enjoyable. Sure it dealt with a creepy crawly antagonist, but it was done in such a way that it more makes you feel glad to be alive at the end. Really, isn't that why we watch horror films in the first place? The rush of adrenaline from the danger and then the ultimate feeling of being alive at the end is what makes these films fun.
Verdict: 4 spider jump scares out of 5