DECEMBER 6, 2010
When you combine Fred Olen Ray, C. Thomas Howell, and giant killer ants, you pretty much have a template Sci-Fi original movie. Hell there’s even a bunch of commando/SWAT types that show up in the last half hour of Glass Trap, almost as if the producers forgot about that trademark aspect of a Sci-Fi original (the film is dated 2005, before the “Syfy” rebrand). That said, it’s a reasonably decent enough time killer, with an admirable pace and a delightfully hammy performance by Martin Kove.
Part of why it “works” is that they set you up for disappointment early on, when we learn it’s Saturday and thus the office high rise will likely be largely empty, cutting down on the number of potential victims. Then we have to endure the clunkiest “cute” head-bump in film history, as Howell leans down to help a girl pick something up who has already crouched down, so he has to go out of his way for the obligatory smack on the forehead. There’s also too much setup, as if anyone cares how the mutant ants came to be and how they got to the building. But once it gets going, it’s fun, with the folks constantly on the move, and the ant FX, while hardly contenders for any awards, are much better than the shit Syfy offers now in things like Lake Placid 2.
Hilariously, one of the things about the FX that they do botch are the shadows. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen CGI monsters running around without shadows, but the FX guys here went the other route, providing exaggerated shadows where there shouldn’t be any at all. At one point an ant is running down a dark hallway, and yet has a long, stretched shadow as if the full moon was right behind his ant ass.
I also like how the screenwriters didn’t seem to care about certain traditions or even subplots. There’s a thing about a guy stealing information off a computer, but what it is or who he was working for is never made clear. Plus they hint at the end that Howell’s character ended up taking it, but we still don’t know what it is (neither, I suspect, does Howell). Kove plays the typically gung-ho asshole who orders certain actions that would cause the death of our heroes, which means he should end up as ant food, but no. Nor do the people trapped inside seem to be angry with him. They run out just before the building is gassed with DDT and he’s just like “Oh, hey.” And then they make a big deal out of Howell being an ex-con who went to jail for hotwiring cars, and at the climax they are trapped in a garage.... but they just run out. Ordinarily I would be annoyed at this, but I got the impression the folks behind the scenes knew no one would care, as long as the ant action came often enough.
Plus I liked that they were “medium” giant ants, about the length of an arm, if that. I don’t care much for insects, but if you make them too big it’s just silly. At this size, I’d actually be a bit creeped out. Unless, of course, I had a boombox handy. In the movie’s silliest/awesomest moment, a girl in a car pulls out a boombox, claiming that the “bad vibrations” of the “heavy metal” song she had in there would drive the ants away. And it does! Except the “heavy metal” song sounds more like a typical Collective Soul single (“Whooaaoooaaa, heaven let your LIGHT shine down!”).
Finally, while he didn’t do much in the movie and died a rather lame death, I liked that Andrew Prine was in it! That’s two in one week after Sutures, and as I said in that review, I hadn’t seen him in anything of note since Amityville II. Does anyone know if he got any good ass-kicking parts in this part of his career? He was the best part of Sutures, but ideally he’d be good in a movie that I really liked. And I still say he should play Tom Jane’s dad in something.
What say you?