18th Oct2019

‘Itsy Bitsy’ VOD Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Bruce Davison, Elizabeth Roberts, Denise Crosby, Arman Darbo, Chloe Perrin | Written by Micah Gallo, Bryan Dick, Jason Alvino | Directed by Micah Gallo

ITSY-BITSY-POSTER

Based on a story by Micah Gallo, who also directs and co-writes the screenplay here alongside Bryan Dick and Jason Alvino, Itsy Bitsy is Gallo’s feature debut, having only worked previously on shorts, as well as a part of visual effects teams on dozens of movies, from the Hatchet trilogy to The Innkeepers.

Now, I’m a fan of the ole “creature feature” but it’s fair to say films in this specific sub-genre are few and far between these days. Spiders are always a good choice for a creature feature horror film, because spiders, after-all, are a widely spread fear around the world. They have eight legs, they can walk on your ceilings, and you never know where the buggers are lurking, so… that’s some solid horror right there, before we even begin to add any mythos.

*SPIDER FACT! Spiders eat more insects than birds and bats combined!*

The plot itself introduces us to Kara, played by Elizabeth Roberts (Criminal Minds, Word Party), a nurse and single mom, who moves from the city into the country with her two kids in order to take a job as a live-in nurse for an elderly man. That all seems fairly standard. Nothing weird about that. It’s a women with kids trying to make a living doing a hard, respectable and important job. Oh… but then Jesse, her son, played by Arman Darbo (And Then I Go) stumbles across an ancient relic in the old fellas house, a relic that is a part of some strange mythology regarding a arachnid goddess who once devoured a kid. I mean, I think we know where things go from here, with Kara and her children facing a new life in which a giant spider is after a tasty new meal.

*SPIDER FACT! Wolf spiders can run at speeds of up to 2 feet per second!*

Now, I have to say immediately after watching Itsy Bitsy, that Gallo’s experience in visual effects has been a big help here. The spider-effects are bloody terrific and very creepy. A fairly small cast and a sense of not giving us too much of the spider means that when we see it, it’s effective, and there’a real strong sense of tension and dread as the film goes on, with the cast doing a nice job, especially Roberts, who brings depth to her character, a character not only battling a murderous spider, but also battling her own inner turmoil too. That’s one of the strong elements, for me, about Itsy Bitsy. Not willing to revolve merely around the spider that terrorises the people inside the house, Gallo has opted for depth and character building which allows us a chance to not only be intrigued by the creature-feature horror elements, but to care about who happens to the people being hunted by the eight-legged fiend. There’s a story of inner demons, of a broken home, or dealing with relationships at a conflicted time in life, and while it might be a touch too dramatic for those full-on horror fans, I thought it added to the film and gave us something fresh and unique.

*SPIDER FACT! The venom of the female black widow is 15 times more powerful than the poison of a rattlesnake!*

A tale of overcoming hardships, and not just hardships of the spidery-kind, with an injection of wonderfully realised creature stalking horror, Itsy Bitsy is what it sets out to be and more, taking a new approach to a genre that is sadly not delved into too often nowadays. Gallo’s visual effects are great, and he shows great promise as a director here. Solid performances and a plot that kept me interested for most of the 94 minute run-time, Itsy Bitsy is a strong creepy creature horror film that should have your attention if you’re a fan of that genre, or after something original and damn fun.

**** 4/5

Itsy Bitsy is available on Sky Store, iTunes and UK digital platforms, including Xbox, Sony PS, Google Play, Amazon and Virgin Movies, now; courtesy of Kew Media.

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