ScreeningNotes’s review published on Letterboxd:
This movie seriously took me by surprise (kinda like a spider jumping out at you from the darkness, amirite?). But seriously folks. I went in expecting some stupid movie about giant spiders. I mean, sort of. I guess I read DirkH's amazing review, which got me thinking maybe this was something more serious I was getting into, but you know what I mean. You hear a title like "Arachnophobia" and you think stupid horror movie. Nope.
Bad news first. It's got a bit of a slow build I guess. I mean, they throw a few good scares right at the beginning, but then it's family time and we've got Jeff Daniels playing his doppelganger Dave Coulier's role on Full House. He's the new doctor in town, but the guy he was supposed to replace has decided not to retire and poor Jeff is left jobless. Wait wait wait, what's this going on here? Is this character development? Preposterous!
Okay, so maybe the pacing actually serves a purpose. What about, uhm... nah, you know what? This movie's freaking great.
Every single element of the story serves a purpose. Jeff's dream is to make a wine cellar out of his basement, and he's got a box of Chateau Margaux to start off his collection and you better believe even a silly detail like that's coming back later. The characterization is also phenomenal. You'll fall in love with half the town and wish the other half death by spider.
And speaking of spiders, I was definitely checking inside my sleeves while I watched. I could've sworn I felt something crawling in there. It's a good thing the arachnids are consistently presented as science fiction (several anecdotes are told of how regular spiders only rarely kill humans) or I'd be having nightmares tonight. You'll definitely feel your skin crawl during those spider scenes.
Maybe it helps that I share Jeff's fear of spiders (and bugs in general), but from where I sat Arachnophobia was an incredibly well-built monster-movie-inspired thriller.
Edit: Oh yeah, 100 movies in 2013! Hooray!