Arachnophobia ★★★★

Spiders are creepy, right? Most people don't like them all that much. The way they creep around and appear at random can scare people. Then, there are the scary spiders that have venomous bites that can kill you if you're unlucky to cross their paths. If there's one movie that can effectively tap into people's fear of spiders it would have to be "Arachnophobia." This movie was made by Steven Spielberg's Amblin company, which makes movies for adults that can also be seen by kids. Examples of these include "Indiana Jones" and "Jurassic Park." Furthermore, "Arachnophobia" marked the directorial debut of Frank Marshall, who is a well known for collaborating with Steven Spielberg as a producer for many of his movies. For a directorial debut, "Arachnophobia" is very impressive. Marshall seems to know his stuff when it comes to creating suspenseful scenes and keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Admittedly, it may not have much in the way of a chilling atmosphere, but the small country town gives the movie a bit of charm. What becomes apparent as one watches "Arachnophobia" is that it's very much a throwback to the creature features of old. In fact, as I was watching this movie, I was kind of reminded of the 1954 classic "Them!". However, where that movie dealt with the issues of nuclear testing, "Arachnophobia" deals with the issues of animal overpopulation and invasive species. Still, both films are about out of the ordinary insects/arachnids that terrorize a small town. This movie is very much a sincere tribute to that era of film and you see how dedicated it is at replicating the tropes of the subgenre. From scientists discussing the science affecting the creatures to our main characters to finding where the abnormal species are coming from, "Arachnophobia" wears its influence like a badge of honor and it should please creature feature enthusiasts. I'll admit that the movie isn't that scary, and it is largely tame, but there are some really well done moments of tension and suspense that can really get under your skin. Another standout in "Arachnophobia" is, surprisingly enough, the characters. The characters are very memorable and standout in very unique ways. It also helps that they're all played by well respected character actors. Jeff Daniels plays Ross Jennings, who has a fear of spiders. Basically his character arc is trying to overcome his fear and save the town. There isn't much too him than that, but Daniels comedic charm make the character all the more likable. Julian Sands of "Warlock" fame plays the scientist inadvertently responsible for the creation of the spider problem and Sands perfectly nails the snooty professor role. The best character in the movie is undeniably Delbert, played by John Goodman. This character got the biggest laughs out of me as he's an exterminator who takes his job way too seriously. I kind of wish he was in the film more, but he was awesome whenever he was onscreen. I can see how some modern audiences may not like this film. It is admittedly a bit tame and its PG-13 rating be a turnoff to some people. I also feel that the first act does take a long time to set things up. Granted, what's here is fine, but it kind of makes you want to get to spiders quicker. The music by Trevor Jones, while fine overall, is also a bit too whimsical for my liking and could've used more of a creepy tone. That being said, "Arachnophobia" should not be written off because of some small shortcomings. At its core, it's a movie that's a very loving homage to 1950's creature features that also has great commentary not often seen in films like this. Throw in a finale that kicks butt and you've got yourself a solid horror film.

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