"Arachnid" may not be a great film and in fact it starts off pretty rocky but it gets better as it progresses and what it does right makes it worth a viewing. The story follows a rescue group traveling to a remote island where the inhabitants have been dying mysteriously. Once on the island, the crew discover that it is populated by strange creatures which appear to be hybrids between spiders and other native forms of life. The creatures are not spiders at all though, the whole incident has been caused by an alien ship crashing onto the island. The accident has released a rapidly evolving strain of spider-like aliens and they are quickly picking off the human population. Before they know it, this rescue mission has become a fight for survival.
When I say the movie starts off rough, I mean really rough. Most of the effects used to create the creatures are practical, which is a very good thing but at the beginning, we see the alien ship and it is created used some computer effects that are not good at all. It's unfortunate because not only does the scene where the ship crashes look amateurish but it doesn't add anything to the story. There's no real mystery about what is happening on the island, you know right from the beginning that it's alien spiders. There's a minor sub plot where the crew's pilot Mercer (Alex Reid) is looking for her brother, which we know is the pilot that first encounters the arachnid creatures but it's more of a tossup between "is he dead or mutated into a horrible spider monster" than anything. Either way you know she's not going to see her brother again. The beginning of the movie is also plagued with terrible dialog and some wooden acting. Once again, if you get past the first 30 minutes or so, it mostly goes away. Maybe I just got used to it, but either way I didn't notice it so much and the movie does get significantly better over time.
The biggest strength of the movie is the variety of creatures and the special effects. Because the arachnid alien creature is trying to adapt to the environment, it's got a variety of spawns that are pretty cool to see. There are some oversized spiders, some snake-spider hybrids, creepy tick-like creatures that burrow under your skin and let's not forget the boss monster itself. These creatures are all created using stop motion, elaborate puppets or cleverly shot miniatures and they're all pretty impressive and very cool to see. You'll likely be disappointed that there isn't a sequel where we get to see additional creatures actually. That's not to say that the special effects are perfect. The budget does show, particularly during the beginning and during scenes where we can see the main arachnid alien crawling around on walls and such. It looks just fine but the speed at which its limbs move isn't quite right. If you ever look at insects move, they have a really unsettling jittery way of moving their limbs. It almost looks like your eye is too slow to capture the movements and all you see are random snippets (kind of like watching people move to a strobe light) and the movements of the main spider just doesn't look as good as it would have if these movements had been done using modern special effects.
Another positive are the characters in the movie. Well, I should say select characters. Several members of the crew sent on the island consist of natives that don't speak English and are basically given no dialog or characterization whatsoever. You can bet these guys are just spider food. The main characters though, they're competent when it comes to the situations they're stuck in and interesting enough that you do want to see them make it out alive. It makes a big difference in the scary moments.
I also want to discuss one bit in the movie that was really clever. So you know how in every horror movie, the group has to split up so they can cover more groundget eaten when they become isolated? Well this movie does that but instead of the second group just getting killed off, they actually re-join the survivors of the spider attacks towards the end of the film. That means you get that tension of the group getting smaller and smaller as the bodies pile up, only to get a boost of potential victims towards the end. If you are an aspiring film-maker I strongly recommend you check this movie out to see the little touches it did well.
For all the praise I'm giving the movie, I have to admit it really isn't that great overall. It feels like the film needed to go through one more proof read to tighten up some of the loose ends and move this from a "better than expected" movie to a "hidden gem". It isn't great but if you see this one at the video store for a dollar or you spot an ol' VHS copy at a garage sale, it's worth a look. Just forgive that terrible intro and you're in for some fun.
Review by squirrel_burst from the Internet Movie Database.