Sunday, May 02, 2010

King Of The Ants

Wow... caught up with a very enjoyable overlooked 2003 direct-to-DVD exploitation film last night, King Of The Ants, in which a young, ambitious, and somewhat amoral guy in LA gets rather over his head with some bad guys, but adapts in surprising ways. The story is based on a novel I have not read by one Charlie Higson, a British writer whose work I will be looking into - though I'll probably skip the Young James Bond novels he's been doing. The characters are so unpleasant, at times, and the choices they make so morally uncomfortable for the viewer that it seems like something Jim Thompson might have penned when feeling singularly masochistic. The director of the film is Stuart Gordon, whom you may or may not remember fondly from the Re-Animator films. While I've been at least passably amused by several of his movies (also including Dolls and From Beyond), I must admit - sorry, Stuart - that tho' his name was the main reason I picked it up, I expected nothing as compelling or interesting as this film (which also has a terrific performance from George Wendt, as a heavy, if you'll pardon the pun; ol' Norm is entirely credible as a ruthless thug, believe it or not). In fact, the most typically "Stuart Gordon" moment - the hallucinated feces-eating creature - is among the weakest of the film (as, alas, is the final image, which, as Ken Eisner notes in his Variety review of the film, is quite cliched - the guy-walking-away-from-burning-building trope). Whatever the shortcomings, however, the characters and dialogue are believable and delightfully crafted, and the narrative/thematic arc of the film will keep you very much engaged. A high tolerance for brutality is recommended, but as long as you can take a bit of torture, you really ought to seek out this movie; it even nets 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, though it has only a handful of reviews...

...think I'll go see what other films of Stuart Gordon's I've missed. He's done a Mamet adaptation, even... fancy that...

1 comment:

ammacinn said...

So I'm impressed. I haven't yet found DAGON, but so impressed was I with KING OF THE ANTS that I looked at two other Gordon's today, STUCK and EDMOND - the latter being the Mamet adaptation mentioned above. I actually preferred STUCK, but both films demonstrate that Gordon has matured into an interesting independent filmmaker, making idea-rich and provocative B-movies (not that we use that term anymore) that deserve to be widely seen - I'll be keeping an eye out for his next release. STUCK, I'd say, is a must-see, in fact - telling the story of how a young woman handles the situation when she accidentally runs into a newly homeless guy, who becomes lodged in her windscreen. She does NOT drive immediately to the hospital... Meantime, if you seek out EDMOND - which is sort of "FALLING DOWN for grown-ups" - keep a sharp eye out for George Wendt, again, here totally unrecognizable as a Russian pawnshop owner; and note the bitchy, fey desk clerk is none other than S.G. old-timer Jeffrey Combs...