2017 was a great year for fans of movies about ants. I know what you’re thinking right now: who the hell watches these movies? Well, I for one watch them and this is why we even have a list of the best Movies about Ants. And on that list, the movie we’re going to be talking about today is ranked quite high. In case you’re wondering, Dead Ant is the other 2017 ant movie. With that out of the way, let’s delve straight into this one. It Came from the Desert is a charmingly retro science fiction comedy about a group of high schoolers trying to survive an ant attack. It’s actually based on a 1989 video game of the same name. And that game is based on the fifties monster movie craze.
You know the ones I’m talking about where some sort of an experiment or better yet a nuclear explosion causes ordinary animals to grow to extraordinary sizes. Since this is a relatively unknown movie, I have to first tell you that it looks great. Not only the cinematography was excellent but the special effects were great as well. Something that’s really important when you’re making a movie about giant creatures on a budget. It also pays off to have your movie set in a picturesque location, a mysterious desert, or something like that. The director of this movie, Marko Mäkilaakso, honed his filmmaking skills on music videos.
And I think this is why he was able to make such a visually appealing movie. It Came from the Desert is also full of this youthful energy and it’s delightfully and innocently retro. It starts, however, with a couple of soldiers running through the tunnels. They’re running away from unknown creatures chasing them. Although I have a feeling you already know what those creatures are. Just a couple of miles away we have our group of teen rascals enjoying a bit of dirt racing. They’re all excited because of the upcoming party and have all the usual teen dreams and problems. The story unfolds at quite a brisk pace and when you add to this a short running time, the movie feels more and more like something you can play any night.
You feel like this is a passion project and that everybody on the set had a lot of fun. Our three leads, Vanessa Grasse, Alex Mills, and Harry Lister Smith were excellent and had great chemistry together. I also love the fact we didn’t get some older once-popular actor to do a cameo. That would mess up the entire vibe of the movie. I feel like it exists in its own, guilty pleasure realm. I mean, at one point a giant ant takes a beer keg and just chugs it Frank the Tank style. So, this is a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously while remaining coherent. The scale of the invasion is much smaller than in Eight Legged Freaks for example.
When it comes to graphic violence and gore, it’s really toned down. After all, this isn’t that type of a movie and the same goes for the nudity. However, there will be one pretty nasty kill. In case you’re not familiar with the original game that was apparently quite popular, you can see how it looks during the end credits. I still don’t know why people were so hard on this movie. I mean, a 4.3 rating for such an adorable little movie is a travesty. I’m certain that in the coming years and decades, It Came From The Desert will get the recognition it deserves.
Sure, it has its issues but overall it’s a refreshing distraction. I think its biggest problems are the sudden tonal shifts and lack of internal logic. The dialogue also feels forced at times, like it’s trying either too hard or too little to be funny. Still, lowered expectations, a couple of beers and one big fat joint should take care of all of that.
Director: Marko Mäkilaakso
Writers: Trent Haaga, Marko Mäkilaakso, Hank Woon Jr.
Cast: Harry Lister Smith, Alex Mills, Vanessa Grasse, Mark Arnold, Callum McGowan
Fun Facts: The movie was shot in Finland and Spain.