I tend to avoid the SyFy originals. I like cheap movies, bad movies, and cheap, bad movies. But I am not generally fond of a lazy film, where you can tell no one is really putting in an effort. I believe movies can be so bad they’re good, but SyFy’s originals tend to be produced and marketed that way. I’m not going to argue that no one should watch these, or even that no one should make them. It’s just that it’s hard for me to have a great deal of respect for movies that work this way.
All of that said, this February weekend we were smacked with an ice storm that layered nearly half an inch of the stuff. And I had been watching many violent, challenging movies. I needed something vapid, and Ice Spiders sounded like a good antidote. Laboratory-bred spiders attacking a ski resort? Why the hell not?
Tibor Takács’s film sits firmly in the giant beast attack flick. It’s not a tribute or an homage, thankfully. It’s just giant beasts killing skiers, as direct and honest an example as you are likely to find this side of Y2K. For that, I am more than thankful. It’s the kind of movie where you can tell they didn’t want to have more takes than absolutely necessary and the cast mistakes shouting for acting.
Patrick Muldoon has the lead as a former Olympian hopeful turned ski-instructor, “Dash” Dashiell. He’s looking for redemption with all the urgency of someone who forgot what they went into the kitchen for. Vanessa Williams (the Candyman actress, not the singer) is Dr. April Sommers, a researcher at the nearby lab. She reminded me a lot of Denise Richards playing Dr. Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough. Williams probably turned in a similar performance for a lot less pay, so no criticism from me here. Noah Bastian plays an arrogant, upstart, rich-boy Olympic hopeful Chad. You desperately want to see him killed by spiders. He isn’t, but at some point the movie just loses interest in him entirely. So that’s good.
A couple of things I found pretty amusing. When Dr. Sommers discovers the lab’s spiders have escaped, she first tries the phone and finds the lines are dead. So she pulls the fire alarm. This causes a nearby contingent of soldiers to show up with rifles. No hoses. What are they going to do, shoot the fire to death?
There’s also this bizarre thing the actors do where they hop into a random car, flip down the sun visor, and find a spare set of keys there. This happens several times. I have never known anyone who keeps spare keys to their car wedged above the sun visor. That seems like a strange place to put them. Anywhere inside the car seems like an odd place to me, but especially the sun visor. At one point, the entire Olympic ski team crowds into a school bus only to realize the keys are on the driver’s corpse in the parking lot. “Maybe there’s a spare set of keys!” one of them cries, but alas. Chad has to go get the keys off a body instead.
If you have a hankering to watch a movie about giant spiders in the snow, this is going to fit the bill. It’s not the best giant-beast-attack film, but it’s far from the worst. There are plenty of spiders, the plot has continual forward motion, and nothing will stress your brain too much. And there’s no shame in looking for a movie like that; we all need it sometimes. There’s some tedious anti-government commentary at the end that has all the sophistication of a college newspaper op-ed. But that’s why God invented the fast-forward button. Go ahead and push it. You won’t miss a thing.