• Itsy Bitsy (Shout! Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Shout! Factory
    Released on: October 1st, 2019.
    Director: Micah Gallo
    Cast: Bruce Davison, Elizabeth Roberts, Denise Crosby, Arman Darbo, Chloe Perrin, Eileen Dietz
    Year: 2019
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    Itsy Bitsy – Movie Review:

    Kara Spencer (Elizabeth Roberts) is a single mother who lives in New York with her two children, thirteen-year old Jesse (Arman Darbo) and eight-year-old Cambria (Chloe Perrin). Kara has recently lost her youngest child in a car accident. She blames herself for this and is clearly still grappling with the loss, as are her two remaining children. This might be the reason Kara likes the pills she’s constantly popping as much as she does. When Kara is offered a job to relocate to the country to work as a nursemaid for an aging man named Walter Clark (Bruce Davison), she packs up the kids and does just that. Neither Jesse nor Cambria are particularly enthused by this turn of events, and soon enough Jesse is looking after his younger sister more than his mother is.

    Regardless, once they’re settled in, Jesse and Cambria start exploring their new home, a large house that they share with Walter. When Jesse finds a strange black egg that seems to tie into a spider legend, he brings it to Walter but soon after the egg is accidently broken. This unleashes a large, venomous spider into the house that soon starts putting up webs in hopes of catching its prey.

    As Kara spirals further into substance abuse, Walter tries to figure out the truth behind what’s happening while Jesse and Cambria wind up in very grave danger.

    The cover art and even the title of this release allude to an old school killer spider movie and indeed, director Micah Gallo and company are to be commended for using (mostly) practical effects to bring their eight-legged antagonist to life in this picture. That said, there’s a lot of focus here on Kara and her emotional problems, her drug abuse and the lose of her youngest child as well as on how this effects Jesse and Cambria. This stuff gets heavy, even depressing, so those expecting or hoping for something more akin to Arachnophobia might not necessarily dig the vibes that Itsy Bitsy winds up putting out.

    With that out of the way, the movie is well done. Elizabeth Roberts is a good lead, believable in her role, while younger cast members Darbo and Perrin are both likeable enough and sympathetic enough to work here. Bruce Davison’s part is more of a supporting role but he’s pretty solid here too, and look for Denise Crosby cast here as a Sheriff who gets involved in all of this. The face of Pazuzu herself, Elieen Dietz, also has a small part in the film as a waitress.

    Still, the spider doesn’t make much of an impact on the story until we’re two thirds of the way to the finish line. Once it gets there, the effects are pretty cool (though soooo much of this takes place in the dark it would be hard to know if they weren’t), though a few spots where CGI is employed take away from things a bit. More focus on the spider would have resulted in a decidedly higher ‘fun factor’ for this film but as it stands, it is an interesting and nicely put together mix of horror and drama..

    Itsy Bitsy – Blu-ray Review:

    Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release of Itsy Bitsy is presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition presentation and is offered up on a 50GB disc framed at 2.40.1 widescreen. This was shot digitally so there are no issues with grain or print damage to note. Stylistically speaking, this is a very dark looking film with much of it taking place indoors without a lot of light. At times, shadow detail gets hit a little harder than you want it to but overall, this looks to be a very good representation of the source. When the lights come on, detail is nice and strong and colors well reproduced. There’s a bit of shimmer here and there but no problems with noticeable compression to complain about.

    English language DTS-HD tracks are available in 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 options, with removable subtitles provided in English SDH only. The 5.1 track is the way to go if you’ve got the proper setup for it as it does quite a nice job of spreading around the score and the effects work. It’s properly balanced, nice and clean. No issues here at all.

    Extras start off with the first of two commentary tracks. In this first track, Micah Gallo flies solo and speaks about starting the projects, his thoughts on the screen play, the cast and crew’s contributions to the picture, the effects work, shooting specific scenes Gallo and co-writers Jason Alvino and Bryan Dick. Gallo and co-writers Jason Alvino and Bryan Dick. and more. The second commentary features Gallo and co-writers Jason Alvino and Bryan Dick. It covers a little bit of the same ground but, understandably, has a lot more insight into the writing of the picture. It’s also got a bit of a sense of humor to it, these three are clearly having a good time revisiting the movie together.

    From there, we cruise on into the land of short featurettes where we start with The Spider: The Beginnings, a three-minute look at the effects work that was required to create the spider featured in the picture. The two-minute The Journey sees Gallo discussing the film's budget and how the crew helped him overcome this, while the three-minute Denise On Set spends three-minutes with Denise Crosby wherein we learn how great she was to work with and how she got into character. The four-minutes’ worth of Kickstarter Mini-Featurettes document Gallo's attempts to crowdsource the money to get the picture made, while the three-minute The Most Spidery Spider is an amusing gag piece featuring Andy Dick of all people.

    Rounding out the extras are two trailers, a storyboard gallery, menus and chapter selection.

    Itsy Bitsy – The Final Word:

    Don’t let the title throw you off - Itsy Bitsy isn’t the creature feature you might be expecting from the title, but rather a surprisingly dark, albeit rather well made, picture that mixes up some interesting moments of horror and suspense with some effective scenes detailing the effects of loss and grief. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds quite nice and have a decent array of extra features included. Keep your expectations in check as far as killer spider action goes, but this one is worth seeing.

    Click on the images below for full sized Itsy Bitsy Blu-ray screen caps!