I don’t see the issue with spiders. I, for one, don’t have a problem with spiders. I have one living in my car right now. I call him Terry, and we have reached an accord. I don’t live in a place that has aggressive spiders. Sure, they’ve got more legs than lungs, but so did my uncle Ryan though that was due to him working down a mine. Obliviously, if I lived in the like of, say, Australia, I’d have a different opinion of the little buggers, but for now, I am okay. Despite this, however, cinema continues to package them as nightmarish terrors, somewhere between rats and Wendigo.

Anyway, here’s Itsy Bitsy (2019), the latest in a long line of spider features.

A gang attack an isolated tribe an undisclosed South-East Asian nation, stealing an ancient relic and massacre the tribe members. In the US, nurse and single mother Kara (Elizabeth Ann Roberts) moves from New York with her children Jesse (Arman Darbo) and young daughter Cambria (Chloe Perrin). She is starting a new job as a live-in-nurse with Walter (Bruce Davison) a retired antique dealer, the family travel to Walter’s farm in the rural mid-West.

You can see where this is going. Don’t lie.

Sure enough, the ancient relic is brought to Walter by his old friend Ahkeeba (Treva Etienne) who led the attack on the village. It turns out; this was not for profit, but revenge as Ahkeeba blames the tribe for the death of Walter’s wife. When Walter destroys the relic, a hibernating giant spider that the tribe worshipped as the manifestation of their god, awakens an escapes. Horror insures as Kara, battling her demons has to battle a spider god now and save her family.

The spider sucks.

It’s the worst part of the film. The CGI is on par with something from fifteen years ago. It hasn’t even been correctly shaded, standing out like eight thumbs and no I’m not sorry for the spider joke. The filmmakers have a habit of showing a POV shot from the spider, and it looks like something out of a game. A mediocre one.

If anything the whole thing with the spider is a distraction from a very human drama happening with Kara, her family, and Walter. Kara is dealing with PTSD from a car crash that claimed the life of her child, while Walter mourns for his wife. He begins a grandfatherly relationship with the children, particular Jesse while Kara tries so damn hard to hold her life together and fight off her dependence on pills.

This isn’t a spoiler, by the way, this is set up from the start.

And the way they treat PTSD and addiction is on point. The sudden panic attacks, fears at everyday occurrences, the inability to communicate to others what you are going through. Roberts and the film portray trauma in an honest and, at times, brutal way.

The characters have brilliant chemistry, and I want to see them grow. Not watch them get bitten by a monster that looks like something out a Christopher Eccleston era Doctor Who episode. That Roberts and Davison treat this film like an emotional drama leads me to believe that director Micah Gallo was initially making two very different movies with the same cast. But due to a miscommunication both were edited together into a single film.

There is an outstanding family drama in here that I want to watch and enjoy. So if you’re being told that your ancient spider monster is getting in the way of a brilliant slice of life subplot, then you know your film has failed as a horror.

Dir: Micah Gallo

Scr: Jason Alvino, Bryan Dick

Cast: Elizabeth Ann Roberts, Bruce Davison, Arman Darbo, Chloe Perrin, Treva Etienne

Prd: Brandon K. Hogan, Cory Neal,

DOP: Marcos Durian, James Zsigmond

Music: Garry Schyman, Frederik Wiedmann

Country: USA

Runtime: 94 minutes

Itsy Bitsy is available On-Demand now

By Pat Fox

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