There’s a point, about ten minutes into It Came From The Desert when you’re gonna think ‘Ok I’m calling it’. But before your reach for the remote, just give it ten more minutes. Admittedly, if you’re no longer 14-years-old, it’s going to feel a lot longer. Don’t ask why, but there’s something uniquely irritating about a bunch of uber-competitive teens getting loaded in the desert. But then suddenly, almost imperceptibly, something curious happens. Marko Makilaakso’s tribute to the classic video game starts to get under your skin. In a good way.
It might be the alien-hybrid, talking, mutant ants. It might be the no-bull female lead. It might be the over the top dialogue. Or it might be the unabashed ‘80s feel of the whole kit-and-caboodle. Whatever the reason, It Came From The Desert turns out to be surprisingly watchable and quite charming with a 15-rating that would seem to be fairly arbitrary.
The leads (Vanessa Grasse, Mark Arnold, Harry Lister Smith) do a great job with their deadpan delivery of some classically cheesy lines. And if everything looks a bit too much like a video game cut sequence, well that’s the whole point. This is, after all, the film of the game which was, itself, based on the cheesy B-movies of the 1950s. Think Roger Corman meets Doom.
The giant ant design owes much to the spirit of Ray Harryhausen – it’s just a shame that the budget didn’t stretch to stop-motion.
It Came From The Desert is sure to divide audiences. Some will maybe feel the humour too dry, the effects not polished enough. But for many, It Came From The Desert will conjure up a warm rush of nostalgia – memories of rainy afternoons watching pulpy buddy movies and playing clunky 16-bit computer games.