It Came from the Desert (2017) (90 minutes)
Directed by Marko Mäkilaakso.
Written by Trent Haaga, Marko Mäkilaakso and Hank Woon Jr.
Adapted from the 1989 video game It Came from the Desert, developed by Cinemaware.
Starring Harry Lister Smith, Alex Mills and Vanessa Grasse.
Marko Mäkilaakso’s movie It Came from the Desert evokes the creature features of the 1950s by way of the late 80s, making it a cheesy, nostalgia-packed thrill ride from start to finish. Inspired by the 1989 video game by Cinemaware, it never once takes itself too seriously, and keeps you watching with clever effects, over-the-top action sequences, and a number of hysterically funny lines that are sure to offend.
In it, crazy dirt-bike pro Lukas and his strait-laced mechanic Brian explore an abandoned scientific facility during a wild party in the New Mexico desert and come face-to-antennae with gigantic ants, because this is a monster movie and that’s what happens in such things. By gigantic, I mean GIGANTIC. The size of trucks. The ants break out of the facility, terrorize the partygoers, and the remainder of the film is concerned with stopping the insectile threat… if it can be stopped.
With lines like, “Will you stop calling me Nancy?” and “You’re the one hugging me, Gaylord,” this is not a serious movie, which works perfectly for the subject matter. Despite the 80’s synth music soundtrack, this is a movie that takes place today, with references to The Avengers, The Lord of the Rings, Aliens, Jurassic Park, and others, including a fictional series of action films featuring a hero called The Eradicator.
If It Came from the Desert has a lower production budget than today’s over-produced big studio films, you’d never know it. Clever integration of CGI, practical effects, and excellent stuntwork give everything a very realistic feel. The ants themselves are creepy, racing through cramped laboratories and across dusty hardscrabble, even as they drink beer (!) and spit formic acid.
Independent films are often hit or miss affairs, but when they hit, they hit hard. It Came from the Desert is a home run. It knows its audience, it plays to its strengths, and it entertains through and through. What more could you ask from a monster movie?