(director/writer: Kiah Roache-Turner; cinematographer: Brad Shield; editors: Luke Dooling, Jeff Cummings, Kiah Roache-Turner; music: Anna Drubich; cast: Danny Kim (Eric), Ryan Corr (Ethan), Alyla Brown (Charlotte), Penelope Mitchell (Heather), Robyn Nevin (Gunter), Noni Hazelhurst (Helga), Silvia Colloca (Maria), Jermaine Fowler (Frank), Tony J. Black (Officer Miller); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jamie Hilton, Michael Pontin, Chris Brown; Well Go USA Entertainment; 2024-Australia)

“Too many dull spots to allow the film to take a bigger bite out of you.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A well-crafted and fun creature film built around a family drama. The squirmy B-film is written and directed by the Aussie filmmaker Kiah Roache-Turner (“Nekrotonic”/ “Wyrmwood: Apocalypse”), who was influenced by Sam Rami. 

The deadly spider is an
extraterrestrial that arrives on Earth via a crashed meteor in the form of an egg crashing through a Brooklyn apartment building’s apartment window and landing in a dollhouse that belongs to the 12-year-old Charlotte (Alyla Brown). She dwells there with her mom Heather (Penelope Mitchell) and her comic book artist stepfather Ethan (Ryan Corr). Also present is the couple’s new baby. Charlotte’s biological father abandoned them years ago, which still hurts Charlotte (has a rocky relationship with her stepdad).

Charlotte takes a fancy to the newly arrived spider, who is hatched when the egg cracks. She names it “Sting” (think of Bilbo’s sword in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and note that
Jackson’s Weta Workshop did this movie’s live-action creature effects).

Charlotte’s parents are not made aware of the spider, as she keeps it as a pet in a jar and is unaware Sting can leave the jar anytime by opening it. After harming some pets in the building, Sting returns to the jar and screws it shut again without being detected.

Charlotte is unaware that the spider is dangerous until in the last act when it becomes a
CGI giant and goes into an attack mode on the building’s only other residents–Charlotte’s angry great-aunt Gunter (Robyn Nevin), her dementia suffering grandma Helga (Noni Hazlehurst), and the alcoholic widow Maria (Silvia Colloca).

Also in danger are characters in comic relief roles–the exterminator Frank (Jermaine Fowler), called in from the outside during a heavy blizzard to fight the spider and, another building resident, the frantic weirdo Asian science student Eric (
Danny Kim) who thinks he knows all about spiders.

The film leaves you guessing who will survive. While its gory kills are both entertaining and scary, it’s nevertheless not creepy enough to match the better scary horror pics. In this one, there are too many dull spots to allow the film to take a bigger bite out of you.

REVIEWED ON 4/19/2024  GRADE: B-