Genetically altered spiders can live in space for years. They apparently eat astronauts, slowly if Spiders is any indication, and can survive impact with stray asteroids. Who knew?
These tough SOBs land on Earth, and a Russian scientist goes to work. He wants to harvest the queen for her webbing, the superior bullet proof substance that can still be cut with a knife to rescue key characters… so it’s valuable or something.
But, gasp! The spiders inexplicably escape and run through a set that gets maximum exposure for budgetary reasons. New York here consists of two streets and a cordoned off subway section. All the while, audiences follow a tragic quest for little girl, a frantic, soon-to-be divorced mother & father rummaging through the streets (all two of them) as soldiers are picked off in the background.
Marines pop the uglies with tons of firepower, yet the emotionally broken couple fends off the ravenous mutants with cardboard boxes. That’s impressive. Somewhere in the midst of this mess is a subplot about government spies, false viruses, and other nonsense that builds to reach an acceptable runtime, not entertain.
Throw it all out for the finale as queenie escapes, now 50-feet tall, fending off helicopters, missiles, tanks, and machine guns. For all of its remarkably idiotic plot devices, Spiders has quite the raucous finish, stupidly energetic as it delivers the one thing anyone expects from a movie like this.
Sure, the effects are terrible and the excitement is lax, but from Hungarian director Tibor Takacs, this is often tolerable. Takacks has made a career from SyFy Channel’s love of the TV creature feature, and Spiders shows some growth, or maybe that is just the slightly raised budget. Most of these insufferable TV flicks take every opportunity to avoid showing the monster; Spiders loves the chance to push its brutish monsters on screen.
No, Spiders is never good, yet on the sliding scale that ranges from Mosquito Man to Ice Spiders to this one, Takacs’ latest is not the epic slog one expects it to be. This is a goofy fun once everyone shuts up and just admires the audacity of an alien spider munching on a single block in New York.
Spiders is quite the mess visually, this no fault of any visual effects. The digital photography feels pulled from the earliest days of the technology, pushing a muddy, over processed look that smooths out skin and warps definition. Slather film with noise reduction and this is what you’ll end up with. Spiders is merely low budget.
Filtered appearances aside, Spiders dumps average color across the screen and stable black levels. Depth presents little concern, even in the main set that is designed to be an aging subway. Color correction is heavily apparent in the research lab, where the overbearing blue lights tint the scene to sap saturation. The film is mostly chilled with blues, although some remnants of flesh tones remain.
You cannot look at the piece and call it sharp; all of the dialogue scenes look rundown, special effects are softened to hide the fakery, and city establishing shots are culled from any number of sources. If there is anything to take away from Spiders, it is clean. The encode never presents bothersome compression, and the source is noise free. That is a relief given the potential in all of the low-light situations.
Shot for 3D, the disc shares space with both 2D and 3D versions. They look identical in terms of filtered and murky definition. Spiders begins in space as the camera pans around a derelict satellite, objects suspended and floating to the glee of 3D-philes. A collision scatters debris towards the lens, which when it picks up, Spiders loves to do. Those high-end moments of action are typically sharp with their dimensionality. Framing during the assault on the queen with tanks and helicopters is set low as to accentuate scale while letting the creature poke at the lens.
The rest? It’s bland. People carry the look of cut-outs, flat and lifeless as they extend from the background. Objects do not have the natural layers, so much as they have obvious places in a limited space; i.e., fog, people, then a background. Spiders rarely feels like it has an actual 3D arena to play in, but rather a static backdrop that happens to be hosting actors.
There is a little to take in from the limited soundstage of this direct-to-video clunker. Underground, the subway has some light ambiance, trains passing by with a mild echo. The city is unsurprisingly deadened, as empty as it looks and sounds. Spiders will scurry around their nest, although they typically take a direct approach in their attack.
Stereo separation is the strongest element here, reserved for the puny gunfire when the military steps up their game. Little shifts into the surrounds. Even bass is absent as missiles are fired off into the hide of the queen, lifeless without any energy. LFE activity peaks when a vehicle pulls into frame and its engine rumbles. Go figure.
Web of Terror is the first in this thin line of bonuses, a promo featurette that everyone plays straight to comedic ends. A series of interviews with the cast & crew repeat some of the latter, overall constructed of other material. Nine minutes of raw set footage is the final piece, probably the best thing here.