The Hunger Games return with such a sequel twist that you can't believe writer Suzanne Collins didn't think of film when writing. Catching Fire builds up with all types of subversive messaging which is interesting but also brings into relief the limitations of the genre and film.
The quiet town of Prosperity Arizona hides a deadly secret – after an accident involving a truck and a rabbit, toxic waste as flooded the local reservoir. A local man named Joshua who raises exotic spiders visits the contaminated reservoir and collects crickets from its
banks. Even though the spiders are slowly ingesting more and more contaminates, Joshua does not notice.
One day a local boy named Mike visits Joshua to see the spiders. After Mike leaves, Joshua is bitten by an escaped tarantula, knocking down a number of spider cages as he falls. The spiders escape and consume him. After feeding upon Joshua, the spiders begin to grow to gargantuan proportions.
As Mike walks home from visiting Joshua, he is stopped by his mother, and town sheriff, Sam Parker (Kari Wuhrer). She and Deputy Pete have discovered the toxic spill and are removing barrels from the reservoir.
Meanwhile, Wade, the mayor of Prosperity, is holding a town meeting to discuss whether should sell the local mines and relocate. During the meeting, prodigal son Chris McCormick (David Arquette), whose father owned the mines before he died, arrives to against Wade’s proposal.
The film then turns to Harlan (Doug E. Doug), a local extraterrestrial eccentric, who is broadcasting his theory that various missing pets in Prosperity have been abducted by aliens. His theory is not well received and he is dismissed as a crack pot.
Mike, wanting to see the spiders again, sneaks out of his house and walks to Joshua’s house. When he arrives at Joshua’s farm, he finds Joshua dead and the spiders missing. Mike then sees the shadow of an enormous spider in the mine. Chris arrives and Mike tells him that the spiders have become giant and are in the mine. Chris doubts Mike’s story.
The next day a number of miners reopen the mine to search for a famous lode of gold. One miner stumbles upon the spiders’ nest and is eaten. Since the town of Prosperity is located above the mines, the spiders are able to appear all over town. Chris is shocked to find that his Aunt Gladys and her dogs have been abducted by male orb weaver spiders.
Chris and Mike go to Sheriff Sam to warn her of the impending danger, but she accuses them of being delusional. She is convinced of the truth when she witnesses orb-weaver spiders attempt to abduct her daughter and Chris. Sheriff Sam springs into action and saves
Sheriff Sam contacts Deputy Pete and tells him to bring all of the police station’s weapons to Harlan’s trailer. Sam goes to the trailer and uses Harlan’s radio station to warn the town of the impending threat. As she attempts to broadcast this message, the trailer is attacked by a giant tarantula.
As the town is under assault by giant spiders, Sam tells the town to evacuate to the local mall. Sam, Mike, Ashley, Harlan, and Wade arrive at the mall and along with the residents of Prosperity, they barricade themselves inside.
In an attempt to use the radio antenna on top of the mall to contact the army, Harlan and Chris climb on the roof. As they ascend the radio mast, they are attacked by spiders. They contact the army but are dismissed as pranksters.
The spiders burst into the mall. Chris leads the remaining townspeople into the basement of the mall. Chris discovers that it is possible to access the mine from the basement of the mall. He enters the basement to look for his aunt. Not only does he find her, he also finds the gold lode that his father had been searching for.
Chris is confronted by Conseula, Queen of the Orb Weavers, the ruler of the giant spiders. Chris mounts a motorcycle along with his aunt and flees the mine. He uses one of his aunt’s lit cigarettes to set ablaze a methane deposit, blowing up the spiders and the mine.
Outside help finally arrives but they do not believe reports of giant spiders. Chris tells the police that the town was assaulted by “spiders
that had ingested extremely high levels of toxic waste.”
The film ends with Harlan broadcasting to the town. He states that the town has decided to cover the whole incident up, but have allowed him to speak the truth knowing that no one will believe him. He then says that Chris has reopened the gold mines, sparking an economic resurgence in the town. But, he says, “that is another story altogether.”