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Itsy Bitsy Movie Review

Written by ZigZag

Released by Shout! Factory

Itsy Bitsy Blu Large

Directed by Micah Gallo
Written by Micah Gallo, Bryan Dick and Jason Alvino
2019, 95 minutes, Not Rated
Released on August 30th, 2019

Starring:
Elizabeth Roberts as Kara Spencer
Bruce Davison as Walter Clark
Denise Crosby as Sheriff Jane Dunne
Arman Darbo as Jesse Spencer
Chloe Perrin as Cambria Spencer
Treva Etienne as Ahkeeba

Itsy Bitsy 01 Itsy Bitsy 02

Review:

Kara Spencer is moving to a small town with her two young children, Jesse and Cambria. She has taken a job as a private home nurse to an aging anthropologist named Walter Clark. Their houses are side by side and Walter seems friendly enough; he is a recent widower and a bit of a recluse. Kara takes care of Walter’s needs in town and Jesse pays frequent visits to the old man. Trouble comes with the arrival of Ahkeeba, his former assistant who has raided a small tribe of a sacred relic, The Black Egg of Maa-Kalaratri. When the egg is broken, a large spider climbs from within and quickly disappears somewhere inside the house. What follows is a deadly game of hide-and-seek as the spider lurks under beds and in the shadows before leaping out to attack. Kara soon finds herself defending her kids against this monster and must face her fears if they are going to escape this web of terror.

Spiders are a source of fright for many people, and Hollywood has been more than happy to exploit this fear with titles ranging from Tarantula (1955) and Arachnophobia (1990) to Eight Legged Freaks (2002) and Big Ass Spider! (2013) among many others. Itsy Bitsy is the latest chiller marking the feature debut of director Micah Gallo, already an accomplished visual effects artist in the industry. The story, written by Gallo with Bryan Dick and Jason Alvino, is a classic tale of man vs. nature. The characters are well-realized with Kara being haunted by a traumatic past and developing a healthy addiction to pain pills. There is drama between mother and son, as Jesse isn’t adapting well to the added responsibilities following the move. The family conflict takes a backseat once the spider is allowed to do its thing and the script becomes more of a series of suspenseful set-pieces.

The cast does a fine job, particularly Elizabeth Roberts (Days of Our Lives) in the lead as Kara, the single mother with a lot on her plate. She successfully transitions from normal life to monster fighter and is a fierce defender of her children. Her best scenes are with her young co-star Arman Darbo (Kung Fu Hero) as Jesse. The two share great onscreen chemistry and display a believable bond of mother and son. Bruce Davison (Willard) plays the retired anthropologist Walter Clark and is a welcome addition to the cast. He is the keeper of exposition and delivers a sense of gravitas when relaying the ancient tribal legend surrounding the egg sculpture and a mythical spider god. Additional marquee value comes courtesy of Denise Crosby (Pet Sematary) as the local sheriff. She doesn’t have a lot to do, but has a nice scene with Roberts in a diner near the beginning of the picture.

The real star of Itsy Bitsy is obviously the spider and fortunately it looks pretty good. The thing is appropriately icky and creepy and proves to be adept at playing peekaboo. The creature was created by effects group Dan Rebert Creations (Slither) and is all kinds of menacing. The spider is initially seen in silhouette and at the edges of the frame, building suspense like a stripper showing a bit of leg. The spider grows when it feeds, requiring design changes for its successive appearances, and steadily gains more screen time building up to a big finale.

Itsy Bitsy is the latest arachnid horror show and it should be a crowd pleaser. The characters are well-developed and the story is straightforward without a lot of fat. Performances are strong and the f/x work is solid. Micah Gallo does a great job behind the camera delivering a nicely paced chiller and I look forward to seeing what he does next. If you hate spiders, I don’t know what to tell you, but if you like being scared you may want to check this one out.

Video and Audio:

Itsy Bitsy is a 2019 production and looks every bit as crisp and new as it is. Presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, there is a lot of small-object detail on display and a stylistic color scheme keeps things popping. Black levels are rock solid and flesh tones appear natural throughout.

There are two audio options, a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix and both are winners. The expanded 5.1 track provides some directional sound effects as the spider scurries around the room and there is some low-end rumble during the finale.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

Itsy Bitsy 03 Itsy Bitsy 04

Special Features:

There are two audio commentaries on this disc, the first with director/co-writer Micah Gallo, who offers a nuts and bolts look at the production. He relays the long road to getting this picture in shape and the importance of seamlessly blending practical and visual effects. He provides backstory and meaning to specific story points and explains some of the elements he wanted to include to express his vision. There is talk of a tight shooting schedule and budgetary restrictions as well as some specifics on the spider design and post production process.

On the second commentary, Gallo is joined by co-writers Bryan Dick and Jason Alvino and the three discuss the lengthy writing process and multiple drafts of the screenplay composed over an eight-year period. The track gets off to a bumpy start as they retrace how they met each other and came up with the original concept for the film, but once they find their rhythm things recover somewhat but remain a bit dry. They talk about abandoned subplots, character development, streamlining the story and also reveal the original downbeat ending.

In the short featurette The Spider: Beginnings (3 minutes), Gallo is joined by creature creator Dan Rebert to discuss the design of the spider. They reveal some of their inspirations from nature while creating something new. Behind-the-scenes footage of Rebert at work in his shop is nicely spaced throughout the segment, but I wish it had been longer.

Itsy Bitsy: The Journey (2 minutes) is another all-too-brief segment in which Gallo shares production stories and challenges from the shoot. Additional behind-the-scenes footage appears throughout showing Gallo at work.

Actress Denise Crosby reflects on her character and her approach to the role in Denise on Set (3 minutes). Gallo provides some additional background information from the script.

A collection of five Kickstarter mini featurettes (4 minutes) allow cast and crew to promote the movie with interviews intercut with behind-the-scenes footage. There is talk of spider phobia, the use of practical special effects, a look at the characters and in a truly absurd moment Gallo pitches the movie as Jaws meets The Exorcist?! I’m not sure what film he’s talking about but it’s not Itsy Bitsy.

Things take a silly turn in the short promo The Most Spidery Spider – Andy Dick Screen Tests for Itsy Bitsy (3 minutes), featuring comedian Andy Dick in a pink leotard acting as the spider. This is a goofy piece designed to entertain, but a little goes a long way.

A storyboard gallery plays as a silent slideshow (31 minutes) revealing the design of several key sequences and plot points.

Two theatrical trailers are included.

Itsy Bitsy 05 Itsy Bitsy 06

Grades:

Movie: Threeandahalfstars Itsy Bitsy Blu Small
Buy Amazon Us
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Fourstars
Features: Threestars
Overall: Threeandahalfstars

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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