Stuart Gordon's King of the Ants is terrible fun--a low-budget revenge flick with the not inconsiderable virtue of being more than usually plausible, with more than usually substantial and believable characters. Gordon with this and Reanimator shows himself to be one of the better American horror filmmakers--more than the rigidly Hitchockian/Hawkian John Carpenter, or the visually flat-footed Wes Craven (yes I thought even Nightmare on Elm Street looked flat), he has an effortlessly fluid free-floating style that keeps you continually on the edge, wondering where the next blow will land (for the record, he says his model for the camerawork in Reanimator was Roman Polanski, and it shows).
And 'blow' is a key word in this film--'blow' and 'bones.' King of the Ants, if anything, is a paean to the pleasures of bones and their breaking, or at least beating; where most Friday the 13th/Halloween flicks prefer the classic kitchen knife to do the dirty work, Ants likes blunt objects; the film (and Gordon, and Higson) seems to understand that blunt does more damage and causes more pain, and that the depiction of that pain and damage is more of a challenge to show onscreen (A knife slices and you see the blood; the consequences of a blow to the bone is not as readily apparent. Hint: sound effects are crucial).
'Blow,' 'bone,' and 'pause'--at least that quiet pause in anticipation of what happens next; Gordon seems to be a master of that terrifyingly breathless moment. People talk of wince-inducing movies from Japan and Korea and even Belgium; Gordon shows that America has its own share of queasy cinema, and needn't hang its head in shame.