ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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King of the Ants (2004)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Stuart Gordon

Starring:
Chris McKenna/Sean
Daniel Baldwin/Ray
George Wendt/Duke
Kari Wuhrer/Susan
8 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
An aimless drifter named Sean (McKenna) finally finds his calling when he’s sucked into a sketchy scheme by two low-lifes (Wendt and Baldwin). The illegal shenanigans eventually lead our young hero down a path of bloody murder and “unrepentant” revenge. Hey! Some people knit to chill out...he kills! Nothing wrong with that!
THE LOWDOWN
”They wanted a fall guy, they created a monster”

I watched Stuart Gordon’s ("Re-Animator") new film “King of the Ants” at 6 in the morning and let me tell ya, it was quite the boost I needed to start my day on the right stab. I “terminated” my daily problems by 2 PM (i.e my landlord is now floating in the St-Laurent river)! I was pumped! Although not pure horror, this twisted ride was still a daring mixture of exploitation flick, crime thriller, revenge opus and slasher bonanza that uppercut me to “good shite” club! THANK YOU!

Based on a novel by Charlie Higson (who also wrote the screenplay), "King of the Ants" was simplistic in its narrative structure, yet far from predictable. It delved deep into those somber corners of the human psyche in a “kiss my grits” type of way while addressing a theme that I adore: “If you stop giving a damn about everything, you can do anything”! That “ant” analogy sure hit home (Mr. Shrink, here I come)! Furthermore, this baby thankfully didn’t hold back on the delight that we call “violence”. Say it with me now kids: v-i-o-l-e-n-c-e-! YEEHAAW! You know how some movies put bloodshed out in a “fun” way? Well, not this cinematic bully! I found myself cringing in my seat like a man-child many o' times with the extensive “torture” sequence, in particular, teaching me all kinds of dire lessons! It's official, I will never look at a golf club the same way!

Now, being that this tale was mostly a character driven piece, it pleases me to report that the performances in the shack were always "on the ball" with an endearing chemistry buzzing between the players and leaping out of the screen. Chris McKenna simply blew me away as the psychotic, yet sympathetic, Sean. This was a “star making” display of well sharpened acting knives! In addition, the succulent Kari Wuhrer was in top form, whereas George Wendt (playing an evil “Norm”) and Daniel Baldwin owned hardcore in their respective parts. A note on Baldwin, if I may. The man has a monologue in here about him, an 18-year old girl and a dog. That speech had me in stitches and to see Baldwin relish in delivering it made it even more enjoyable. Good work, Dano! Tag to all that yummy in my body-bag: a clever screenplay filled with tasty dialogue, Stuart Gordon putting out a visually stylized, yet grounded, show that grabbed me by the numb-nuts and a badass score that made what unraveled before me even more arresting...and you get one hell of a keeper!

On the minor “what were you doing” side of the mallet, the flick did lose me in a couple of places, namely via the slew of hallucinations from which the lead suffered that acted as symbolism for his state of mind. The grotesqueries in the visions either clashed with the down-to-earth feel of the film or weren’t convincing enough in their “special effect” execution to convey the warranted impact (What was that rubber penis all about again?) I also didn’t fully buy the last plot turn that launched the story into its insane last act. But I let that go fast and just went with the crowd-pleasing jamboree of violence that followed.

All in all, "King of the Ants" was an un-wincing study of the act of “violence” and a mucho rewarding watch on every level. I give a standing ovation to everyone involved in the making of this film! We need more brave soldiers like this in our genre army! Well...I need them anyways! Squash this ant, WORM!
GORE
I’m a simple man at heart who appreciates the simple genre goodies and "King of the Ants" came through in that department through this un-rated version. We get a bashed-in head, some excrement eating, a self slit throat, a bit off throat, an axed head, a bust up leg, a burnt head and lots of vicious and bloody golf club/mallet hits! The cruelty was cranked up to “Fuck Yeah!”!
ACTING
Chris McKenna (Sean) was a revelation. He managed to make a fairly unsympathetic character quite likeable, while fearlessly diving into the ugliness of the role. Great show! Daniel Baldwin (Ray) had an obvious blast here and I had a hoot-and-nanny watching him milk the scenery. George Wendt (Duke) so took me aback! Being that I know him as “Norm” from the great TV show “Cheers”, his wicked persona threw me across the bar! The man was intense and quite scary! NICE! Kari Wuhrer (Susan) shined here by taking a “nothing” part and giving it depth and layers. Love that gal and her sweet ass!
T & A
The ladies will be happy to know that Chris McKenna bared all (yes, even Chris Junior) and us dudes got Kari Wuhrer showing off her fine posterior and her small cantaloupes (yup, the implants have left the building).
DIRECTING
Gordon did an excellent job of communicating so much via images and sound...and that's always a plus in my book. The use of filters, the gritty feel and the tight pace also warmed my bacon the right way. Another successful stint by Gordon!
SOUNDTRACK
The dark/kool score by Bobby Johnston brought so much juice to the images. We also get a hip-hop tune and a pop ditty.
BOTTOM LINE
Where the recent "Stepford Wives" remake was an ideal example of a big Hollywood offering at its worst, "King of the Ants" was a perfect illustration of a low-budget film at its best: audacious, well-written, unapologetically brutal, expertly acted and highly entertaining in its nastiness. Sure, this insect stumbled a few times along the way, but it got back up quickly to continue its mission of “kicking my ass!” This movie will definitely make my Top 10 List! I highly recommend you seek it out! Actually, go all out and view it with people you want to get even with and then…well…get even…WITH A MALLET! YEAH BITCH!
BULL'S EYE
George Wendt is the man who brought Stuart Gordon the “King of the Ants” book to read.

Ron Livingston (Office Space) has a small role in this film.

Thanks to 'Mathieu' for hooking me up with an advanced screener of this “should be” classic.
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