Who would’ve thought that great acting, a fear of spiders, and a decent character plot could be so compelling? But how does a film with a predictable enemy manage to strike fear into the viewer? By providing you with a character with arachnophobia and a situation where he’s forced to take it head on. Take that idea and wrap it around a fun plot, and you have a solid story.
The film begins with a crew visiting a jungle, in search of new species to discover. When an unfortunate set of circumstances leads to the export of a new deadly species, a small town is left to deal in it’s wake. Fast forward a bit and we’re soon introduced to our good doctor with arachnophobia. Having moved from the city, he quickly finds himself dealing with his fear the moment he buys a home.
Coming from San Francisco, the doctor and his family are looking to lay down roots by taking over a retiring doctor’s practice. But when said doctor decides to keep working in the town, our doctor is left with no work and a family to support. As he struggles to find any new patients.
Unknown to him, a deadly invasive spider has made its way into his barn from a foreign land. By happenstance, this invasive species has also made the good doctor a target of the town. Right when he starts getting new patients, building his practice, deaths seem to always surround him. The small town slowly believes the newcomer has a role in the deaths, whether by malice or malpractice.
But when the deaths suddenly spike and the doctor is clearly not involved, will the small town avoid further casualties? Also, with his home at the center of it all, will his family manage to survive?
The Fear, The Horror, The Comedy
Jeff Daniels portrays his character to us so well, we unknowingly connect with his fear on a visceral level. Whenever he trembles or freezes in fear, you’re pulled right into his phobia in an escapable way. The way he sells his fear is beyond convincing to say the least. Making things even more entertaining is how he calls his wife to remove any spiders he finds. As he’d rather call in the cavalry than face his fears.
Whenever the fear ramps up, a fun lighthearted song touches your ears. Enter John Goodman, the hilarious Pest Control savior called in to assist the local inhabitants. Claiming his vast knowledge of arachnids, he’s calm and playful wherever he goes. That is until he realizes what dangers he’s actually up against. As people begin to fall prey and the body count grows. Yet despite being aware of the inherent dangers, he throws himself into harms way to continue doing his job with pride. Similar to a firefighter into a burning home, he takes great pride in his work. Clumsy or not!
But even with him aside, the ending too provides a nice touch of light comedy. As the family is back in San Francisco, discussing how they finally feel safe again in their noisy apartment. As they begin to relax though, an earthquake shakes their new home and once again they’re reassured that no place is 100% safe. But, at least they still have each other.
Arachnophobia is a great comedy drama, with touches of horror throughout. The special effects can be rough at times, but it’s still a great watch for families and horror fans alike. Add extra points to it if you have a fear of spiders. My wife still screams when specific scenes come up onscreen. The plot holds up well, with story revolving around a family overcoming new challenges and circumstances. But no matter how grim things get, they buckle down and brace themselves for the issues coming right at them.
An incoming legion of spiders is no match for a strong family that takes care of one another. Making the overall story a pleasant and compelling experience.
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