It’s a new start away from the city for Kara and her family, son Jesse and toddler Cambria, at least that’s how she’s sold it to them, but knowing what they have left behind and what awaits them, even as he stoically accepts the necessity with a maturity beyond his young age Jesse isn’t so sure trading New York for a run down house as part of a home nursing position for retired antique merchant Walter Clark is a good deal.
Unfortunately it’s not like they have many choices, so even when things start to go downhill from the first day when there is a break-in and Walter refuses to call the police, admitting his business dealings have not always been entirely above the law, despite her concerns for the safety of her children Kara has no other option but to stay, her decision perhaps coloured by the realisation that she has easy access to her employer’s stash of medication.
But there are others laws beside those of man, and the particular treasure smashed during the burglary was the stolen Black Egg, already tainted with murder and linked in legend with the Dark Mother, a “weaver of destiny who presides over the time we have on Earth, living in the darkness between the stars,” whose rude awakening manifests as a vengeful arachnid.
The feature debut of former visual effects producer turned writer/director Micah Gallo and partially funded via Kickstarter, Itsy Bitsy is a mixed bag, from the powerful imagery of the opening credit depictions of the tribal rituals of sacrifice to the various threads of the story whose ideas never quite interface as they should, the atmospheric potential of the indigenous superstitions abandoned in favour of less effective jump scares.
With The Lords of Salem‘s Bruce Davison as the bitter widower Walter, his moods swinging unpredictably, Miracle Mile‘s Denise Crosby’s potential as the Sheriff to be an emotional focus is sidelined for a more functional role while The Exorcist‘s Eileen Dietz, also a producer, has a single line, so it is up to Elizabeth Roberts, Arman Darbo and Chloe Perrin to carry the film as Kara, Jesse and Cambria but fortunately all are capable.
The confrontations between Kara and her son and her employer the truest moments of Itsy Bitsy, the drama becomes more important than the horror in what is little more than a monster movie with little unique vision to distinguish itself, though with Gallo’s background many of the effects are pleasingly practical such as the gelatinous venom of the spider bites even if the essential creepiness is only to be found in the cobwebbed ascent to the attic.
Itsy Bitsy will be available on Sky Store, iTunes and UK digital platforms from 14th October