6 August 2015 | TheLittleSongbird
May not be a 'great' movie, but still manages to be good fun
If you liked Mega Spider aka Big Ass Spider, you are likely to find a lot to like in Lavalantula. It's not a great movie as such, but it manages to be good fun and by far one of SyFy's better movies, considering that most of SyFy's movies are cheap, amateurishly made and terribly written that is saying a lot.
Lavalantula, as far as SyFy movies go, looks decent. Editing and photography is tighter than most SyFy movies, locations are colourful and atmospheric, the way the production is lit is less drab than usual and while there is the occasional cheapness and over-obviousness in places the spider effects have a menacing and never goofy look, are proportioned well and fit in the surroundings nicely without looking fake, in short far above the typical the SyFy special effects standard. The spiders actually have a personality (unlike most SyFy creatures), fun and believable as main villains (actually generating legitimate menace rather than unintentional laughs), and don't feel like they're used too much or too little. The music score is groovy and eerie, is careful not to overshadow the dialogue and is used appropriately. The direction shows great confidence throughout.
The script is surprisingly above-average, usually it's one of the worst assets of a SyFy movie, but while there is some cheesiness here and there the amount of hilarious snappy banter, some really neat references and endearing tongue-in-cheek humour far overshadow those spots. The story does feel disjointed and too stretched out in places (the writing for the son and mother did at times feel too much like filler), but it does something that not many low-budget movies get right, it clearly knows what it's trying to be and which audience it's aiming for, and doesn't do the annoying thing that a lot of SyFy/Asylum movies do which is trying too hard to be stupid and bad (when SyFy does that, it comes over as amateurish instead). For what the death scenes may lack in the scare factor, it more than makes up for it with the large degree of fun and suspense, and that the characters while not the best developed are far more likable than most characters in a SyFy movie and that the spiders are believable here is a further advantage. The acting is also better than average, amusing Steve Guttenberg and the other three Police Academy members are immensely fun to watch as is Patrick Renna and Nia Peeples brings some heart to the movie. They make their characters at least tolerable, and clearly know what movie they're in.
All in all, good fun if not necessarily a great movie. 6/10 Bethany Cox