Directed by: Salem Kapsaski Starring: Sophia Disgrace, Rahel Kapsaski, and Lee Mark Jones Indie Film Review by: Owen Herman
Spidarlings is certainly difficult to categorise, but it is perhaps best described as a horror-comedy-musical that takes a turn for the surreal. It tells the story of a couple, played by Sophia Disgrace and Rahel Kapsaski, struggling to make ends meet and pay rent. Matilda (Rahel Kapsaski) works in a seedy bar and is struggling with an oddball admirer, while Eden (Disgrace) stays at home.
The plot is thin at best, and it is so dragged out across the film’s two-hour runtime that there is never any clear direction or narrative thrust. There is a key plot point involving a spider and that doesn’t even begin until the forty-minute mark. The slow pacing is worsened by the inclusion of scenes and characters that have no impact on the plot or the development of Eden and Matilda, which is very frustrating. Even scenes that are relevant often go on too long and could be easily cut down showing a lack of polish. The film ends up feeling about half an hour too long and it can be a struggle to get through. It’s one saving grace in this regard is the often catchy musical numbers which break up the action.
The lack of polish is present everywhere in the film. Both the performances and the script could have done with more work as there are often weak moments that stand out. Resulting in jokes that fail to land and drama that is difficult to care for.
Salem Kapsaski has gone for a unique style for Spidarlings but fails to really capitalise on it. There are a couple of clever editing moments, but they are used far too sparingly. The use of animation does work, but again it feels added on as opposed to an effective stylistic choice. These issues come back to the slow pacing, it makes these brief but clever moments feel far too spread out.
Overall, I found Spidarlings a difficult watch, but not due to the surreal horror that the filmmakers went for. Instead it was due to the messy plot, slow pacing, and overly long runtime. What should have been a snappy and sharp musical is instead drawn out to the point where it’s better moments are lost and almost forgotten.