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Dead Ant

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Dead Ant Movie Poster Image
Campy horror comedy is full of gore, drugs, swearing.
  • NR
  • 2019
  • 87 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The only positive message is that teamwork is necessary to defeat evil.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No notable role models. Inclusion/representation is limited to older Native American man and his presumably Native American assistant selling peyote for $20 a bag.

Violence

Lots of graphic horror violence between giant ants and main characters. The ants kill, injure several people -- usually by tearing off limbs or impaling them with their antennae. Lots of gore and blood, scenes showing people missing limbs. One young woman dies by trying to burn the ants;  the fire spreads, engulfs her. Another man has both hands cut off but survives. Violence is portrayed in a way that's intentionally comical/ridiculous, so it's more graphic than genuinely scary.

Sex

Nearly full-frontal nudity. A woman takes off her bikini while running away from the giant ants. A man stares at much younger women in bikinis, hopes to seduce one. A couple is about to have sex; the woman takes off her top. A man tries to comfort a young woman but is actually thrusting and touching her. Discussion of sex, STDs, how a 40-something man can still "pull" a young woman.

Language

Nearly constant extreme language, including "f--k," "f----r," "f---ing," "s--t," "a--hole," "bulls--t," "goddamn," and more.

Consumerism

Ford truck, Airstream trailer, Members Only jacket.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Entire premise revolves around people taking powerful peyote. Characters drink a lot of beer, get drunk as well as high.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dead Ant is a midnight movie-style horror comedy with a retro feel. There's lots of gory but unrealistic violence -- blood, severed limbs, general carnage -- as well as nudity (including in the opening sequence), references to and quick glimpses of sex (not graphic), constant strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," and more), and drug use (the premise revolves around the use of the hallucinogen peyote). The intended audience is clearly fans of B movie horror films who want to laugh at the camp and not take it seriously. But most mainstream moviegoers will likely find little here to appreciate outside of a few jokes. Sean Astin and Tom Arnold co-star.

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What's the story?

DEAD ANT is a campy horror comedy about Sonic Grave, an aging, has-been rock band that had a one-hit wonder in the late '80s and is desperate to make a comeback at Nochella, a Coachella-adjacent music festival in the desert. The band members -- including lead singer Merrick (Jake Busey); his groupie girlfriend, Love (Cameron Richardson); guitarist Pager (Rhys Coiro); drummer Stevie (Leisha Hailey); bassist Art (Sean Astin); and their smarmy manager, Danny (Tom Arnold) -- are en route to Nochella in an Airstream trailer when they stop at a buzzed-about fruit stand run by Bigfoot (Michael Horse), a Native American medicine man who's known to sell powerful peyote to tourists. As the band buys the peyote, Bigfoot warns them that they'll be cursed if they kill any living thing -- even an ant -- if they use the drugs while they're in a designated sacred area. Things quickly go wrong after Art kills an ant while peeing outdoors and a spilled beer drowns some more of the insects. Soon, bigger and bigger ants are emerging from the earth, ready to kill the invading humans -- including two bikini-clad 20-something friends who'd joined in the band's drug festivities.

Is it any good?

This movie isn't nearly campy or funny enough to become a cult classic, but it may have a little appeal for broad horror-comedy fans who can look past the low-tech CGI, gore, and nudity. Dead Ant is the sort of retro movie that Gen Xers and Boomers would have watched Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, introduce on her weekly Movie Macabre presentation. There aren't any real scares; the giant killer ants dismember and kill, but no one does much more than scream about it, and viewers aren't likely to care enough about any of the characters to feel sad if a couple of them die. If anything, at a certain point, moviegoers might hope for a Shakespearean ending in which no one survives.

Despite the movie's eye-rollingly ridiculous premise, a few ongoing jokes will elicit laughs, mostly centering around the way that rock 'n' roll has changed. Frontman Merrick muses that concerts are boring now without the pyrotechnics and the blood of sacrificed animals, and he deadpans that rock hasn't been good since bands stopped wearing eye makeup. There are other music industry jokes about the merits of the power ballad and how "commercial" fests like Coachella aren't where the action is, but rather the smaller, cheaper spin-off fests like Nochella. But mostly, there's slightly off-putting humor about Pager's ability to flirt with a bikini-wearing woman half his age and Love's sex appeal (she seems attracted to every member of the band), plus all the crass violence in which deaths barely evoke any sadness or grief. Horse (who is himself part Apache, Yaqui, and Zuni) steals his scenes as the medicine man who's willing to take the money of the clueless tourists he warns time and time again. This isn't a movie for most audiences, but those who yearn for "so-stupid-it's-funny" genre flicks may be OK with it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Dead Ant. Is over-the-top, unrealistic violence easier to watch than realistic violence? Why or why not?

  • What does it mean for a movie to be "campy" or a "cult classic"? Can a movie strive for that status, or does it have to be bestowed upon the film once there's an existing fandom for it? Do you think this movie could garner such a status?

  • How are women treated in the movie? Why do you think everyone except for Stevie is shown in barely-there bikinis and short-shorts? Is nudity important to the story?

  • What do you think about the movie's ending? What do you wish had happened?

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