Arachnophobia

Creepy crawlies
★★
☆
Released: 
1990
Director: 
Frank Marshall
Starring: 
Jeff Daniels, Harley Jane Kozak, John Goodman, Julian Sands
The Setup: 
Giant spider creates race of killer spiders that menace small town.
Discussion: 

I had seen this when it was out, but at the time didn't realize that this is firmly in the vein of other 80s/90s Spielberg-produced light thrillers that are more interested in having fun and being light family entertainment than actually trying to be scary.

Jeff Daniels moves into a charming house in a charming California small town filled with charming characters. Turns out an unknown species of South American spider has taken up residence in his barn and mated with small local spiders (in a hard to believe elephant-mouse type affair) and created a race of mid-size, deadly spiders that terrorize the town... in a fun, family-friendly way. The movie succeeds in playing on one's fears of putting a hand into dark, webby places, which it exploits often, but by the time the house is teeming with CGI spiders, one bite of which can kill, if, however, they chose to bite, one becomes most interested in simply making it to the end. There are brief moments in which one understands why they needed Daniels' wry intelligence for the role (though not enough), and it finally ends with a nail gun shot hitting a flaming spider in mid-air, which propels it directly onto the hatching egg case, insult to injury, although the movie does then have the courtesy to conclude. You might have thought that an open flame licking at the foundational timbers of an old wooden house, timbers we have established as little more than porous kindling, would be a problem, but, well, you'd be wrong.

Should you watch it: 

Up to you, I think you could give it a pass.