Giant ants. Drunk teenagers. Futuristic weaponry. And a tiny-bit of motocross. If any of the aforementioned phrases raised even the tiniest sigh, you might as well leave now, because Marko Mäkilaakso’s gloriously stupid arcade-style runner-and-gunner has it all, and it doesn’t care who knows it. It Came From The Desert is an unapologetically silly pastiche that nails its audience very early on and rarely ever falters, delivering a seriously entertaining, low-rent fireworks display of a modern monster movie.
Pitched somewhere in that hazy middle ground in-between a 1950s creature-feature, a self-aware B-movie throwback, and an early-90s-era Power Rangers episode, this is about as trashy as they come. Not quite as self-satisfying as a Sharknado or Syfy flick, nor as poorly made, Mäkilaakso seems to find a happy medium somewhere within that totally messed-up venn diagram, dealing just enough laughs, cheers and occasional wide-eyed guffaws to keep this one consistently fun, even if it is mostly forgettable.
Based on the cult 80s video-game of thesame name, It Came From The Desert ditches a party-bus full of teens in (you guessed it) the desert, for a beer-fuelled dirt bike race which (again, you probably guessed it) ends up falling totally off the rails when a bunch of hyper-intelligent giant ants show up. Stumbling across a disused testing facility, two brothers have to uncover the secret, save the girl, win the race, kill the ants, the list goes on. And you’ve probably both heard, and seen it all before. This is not even close to ever being anything new.
Because between the ant-fights, Starship Trooper-esque battle weaponry and pounding hair-metal soundtrack, It Came From The Desert is quite often little-more than cheesy as sin, and entirely disposable. But Mäkilaakso and his co-writers (one of whom being 68 Kill’s pulp-king director Trent Haaga) don’t really take anything seriously, and squeeze in just enough self-awareness to be on-top of the silliness, without ever seeming sarky, which is a satisfying mix. It never (for lack of a less ironic phrase) jumps the shark, and manages to always stay within its own little ring-fenced area of idiocy, so the final product is something light, brainless and entirely inoffensive.
It’s definitely not likely to change the face of creature-features, or even just pulpy throwback horrors any-time soon, but this giant-insect extravaganza guarantees a good time for the right crowd. Stupid with a capital ’S’, and proud of it.