Movie Review: Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 2002 horror/comedy starring David Arquette and Scarlett Johansson.

Synopsis: A truck carrying toxic waste outside Prosperity, Arizona accidentally dumps a barrel into a water reservoir, contaminating the crickets that are used to feed the spiders at a nearby spider farm. As a result of this, the spiders grow to an unusually large size, escape and, using the abandoned gold mine that runs under the town, begin to hunt the residents.

Review

My wife wasn't interested in watching either of the two films I recorded off of one of our movie channels last week so, remembering it was on Netflix, I wound up picking this movie instead. We originally watched this film years ago, not long after it first came out, and I didn't remember much about it. But, after seeing it again, I have to say I was glad I chose it.

I am always a bit skeptical about horror-comedies. This is because many of them focus a bit too much on the comedy side of things and, if the jokes don't work, the movie can go downhill very fast.

This movie, however, pulls this genre off perfectly. There is just enough comedy to keep the movie lighthearted and fun. But, at the same time, the spiders did manage to be somewhat creepy (especially in the beginning, when they were lurking behind walls, in cupboards, etc.). I don't know if it really reached a point where I would be able to call it a great horror film. However, there were enough moments that had me on the edge of my seat for me to still give it a "thumbs up."

I especially liked how the movie had a variety of spiders in it. This did keep the film much more interesting because you didn't know if the victims would be chased down by a jumping spider or would have one pop up from a trap door in the ground. I also thought the various noises made by the spiders, ranging from growls to sounds that could almost be interpreted as words. While this obviously wouldn't go over well in a true horror film, I did think they added a bit of an additional comedic effect.

My only real complaint about the movie is I wish it would have given some of the secondary characters a little more depth and uniqueness. To be fair, maybe this was the intention of the writers from the start, but most of the townspeople seemed like cookie-cutter replicas of characters I've seen in dozens of other films, ranging from the angry teenager (Johansson) to the social outcast/nerdy kid who also happens to be a spider expert (Terra). The movie isn't overly long so there was room to do something (or multiple things) to set them apart and make them more memorable.

Final Opinion

This is a fun film that is mostly a comedy but still manages to have multiple moments that will make you think something is crawling up your back. I recommend taking the time to watch it if you haven't seen it before or in a while.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 05/03/2019, StevenHelmer
 
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