Review: DEAD ANT Is Squished Before Arrival

FIRST IMPRESSION

Dead Ant doesn't deliver on its wacky premise, as it largely falls flat in terms of B-movie campiness, humor, and scares.
Writing
Directing
Acting
Technical Merit

Dead Ant is a new horror-comedy co-written and directed by Ron Carlson. The film follows a one-hit wonder band from the 1980s as they reunite and attempt to restart their careers by having a crazy drug-fueled night on ancient Native American sacred grounds. However, when they break the rules they were given, they unleash a force of giant killer ants.

On one hand, this movie is pretty crazy. The idea of magical giant killer ants is certainly weird, and the person who came up with the idea may need some psychological help. That being said, the film didn’t present it in a way that wasn’t particularly original. The movie becomes just another creature feature, like Tremors or Lake Placid, and we already have plenty of those.

The film has an overall air of B-movie style, so much so that it is almost surprising that this is receiving a VOD release and not heading straight to SyFy network. On SyFy, it would have been in the higher level of their programming. It’s campy, has some solid B-list stars, and a wacky concept. Those things don’t make a solid regular movie, though.

dead ant tom arnold
Tom Arnold (Danny). Dead Ant is in theaters, on demand & digital HD January 25, 2019. Credit: Courtesy of Cinedigm.

The film worked best when it wasn’t really trying. When the movie tried to be funny, it often tried too hard and ultimately fell flat. There are a few scenes that will make you think “Gee, that’s silly!” and offer the B-movie fun for which you would have hoped, but these are few in number. The rest of the film isn’t unwatchable, but it isn’t as enjoyable as it could have (or should have) been.

The actors all do a decent job in their roles, but given that it is a B-movie, there isn’t a whole lot of depth to the characters that they were given. The two biggest names in the cast are likely Tom Arnold and Jake Busey. Both have some solidly funny moments, and they ham it up. Both of them appear to be having a good time, and that does help to an extent.

dead ant band
Tom Arnold (Danny), Leisha Hailey (Stevie), Jake Busey (Merrick), and Rhys Coiro (Pager). Dead Ant is in theaters, on demand & digital HD January 25,2019. Credit: Courtesy of Cinedigm

The visual effects in the movie are a bit rough. There are a few scenes in which they look so bad they are laughable. A majority of the film uses bad low-budget CGI, but that’s unavoidable because it is a bad low-budget movie. The practical effects don’t fare much better. There is a scene in which a character has lost both of his hands and is spraying blood everywhere. It doesn’t look very impressive.

However, perhaps the most disappointing element of the film is its music. For a movie that pitches itself as “Tremors meets This Is Spinal Tap”, you would hope that music would play a huge role in the film. While music does serve as a significant plot element (the band got into this situation because they were travelling to a gig), the songs are super forgettable. It would have been nice if the songs would have had some actual substance.

Overall, Dead Ant was a lackluster movie. It doesn’t even deliver as a campy B-movie, as it often tries too hard. It may end up finding love on the midnight circuit nevertheless.

Dead Ant is available in theaters and on demand beginning January 25.

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Sean Boelman
Sean is a film student, aspiring filmmaker, and life-long cinephile. For as long as he can remember, he has always loved film, but he credits the film Pan's Labyrinth as having started his love of film as art. Sean enjoys watching many types of films, although some personal favorite genres include dramatic comedies, romantic comedies, heist films, and art horror.

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