Sunday, July 28, 2019

Movie Review: CRITTERS ATTACK! (2019)

Horror films are what I, as a movie lover, am most drawn to, and sometimes that includes bad, B-rated monster movies, and a classic example of this genre is the Critters franchise. Since it’s release back in 1986, the original Critters has spawned four sequels and a short web series, including this latest installment, Critters Attack!

Now, before I dive into my review of this film, I felt it was necessary to let my readers know that I have only seen the first Critters film once, probably 25 years ago, and I really don’t remember much at all. So, needless to say, I did have a few questions that may have been answered had I seen at least the first one more recently, which I’ll get to as we go through the film. I did, however, go online and read the plot synopsis for the original film, just to have a little context about these creatures.


The film starts off with the obviously broken family of Drea, her younger brother Phillip, and their drunken Sheriff uncle, Louis. Phillip sees something he believes to be a UFO while stargazing one night with his telescope, though no one believes him. Not his uncle, not his sister... no one.

Drea learns that she was rejected, again, from the college she applied to, which we find out is the same college her mother was attending before getting pregnant with her. She’s obviously trying to finish what her mother started, out of love and honor, as well as out of a bit of guilt. She blames herself for he mother not finishing school and she blames herself for her mom’s death. This is a much deeper story thread than I was expecting the fifth film in the Critters franchise to have, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Then Drea is given the opportunity to babysit for one of the members of the school’s board of admissions, and as her Uncle Louis says, “Sometimes smarts just aren’t enough. Sometimes it’s the people you know in the world.” This is where we meet the Lacy family. Professor Lacy is in and out of the scene very quickly, never to be seen again in the film. We also meet her children, Trissy and Jake. I’m curious as to what Professor Lacy’s reaction would be to finding a dead Critter in her home, or the fact that her son suffers an injury on Drea’s first day of babysitting. I wish we had gotten more of an ending wrap up to address this, the death of Uncle Louis, and the alien attack in general.

While out for a walk, Trissy finds a wounded creature. Unbeknownst to them, this is the Queen Critter. As a foil to all of the other creatures in the film, the Queen seems to be kind and gentle, yet powerful and vicious when needed, like a true queen should be. This is where things begin to go sour for Drea and the others, as the legion of Critters want their Queen back and will stop at nothing to get her, while enjoying some bloody, gory snacking.

Speaking of blood and gore, one of my favorite things about this movie are all the practical effects used, from the aforementioned blood and gore, to the Critters themselves. It was great to see. I feel like recent films rely too heavily on CGI and forget just how cool and fun it is to see creatures like this done practically. It may seem cheesy at times, but I’ll take a cheesy practical creature over a poorly done CGI one any day of the week.

We also run into a bounty hunter, known only as “Aunt Dee”, played by the wonderful Dee Wallace. As I said before, I did go online and read about the first film, which is how I remembered that Dee Wallace played the main character in the original Critters film, and that it included two shapeshifting bounty hunters. At first, I wondered if this Aunt Dee was actually Helen Brown living a new life after the events of the first film, but then it’s revealed that she’s a bounty hunter, which makes me believe she’s one of the two from the first film and just chose to take the form of Helen after the attack. This is never confirmed, but it seems to be the most logical explanation as to why this bounty hunter looks like Helen Brown. I also think it’s a great way to link back to the original without forcing it too hard.

Throughout the film, the kids band together to take down these bloodthirsty Critters, and manage to succeed with the help of Aunt Dee. They also discover a weakness of the Critters, and it just so happens to be one of my negatives for this film. I don’t know if this is something used in previous films, but having the Critters become paralyzed and then blow up from loud, high pitches noises (police siren, air horn, etc.) seemed a bit of a cop out to me. It reminded me of Mars Attacks in that aspect, which is far more satirical than this. And another negative that really bugged me were the proposed ages of these kids. 

I buy Drea as a 19/20 year old, and I can even buy Trissy as a 12/13 year old, but both Phillip and Jake definitely look older than they are playing. It makes the little romance between Phillip and Trissy seem awkward because she can pass for 12, but he looks more like he’s 15 or 16. Maybe it’s just me, but it bothered me during the entire movie and I just can’t shake it. Also was the main Critter with the scars on its face from one of the other films? The way they focused in on that specific one and the scars make me think it is, possibly from the first film, which would make my previous theory about the bounty hunter make more sense.

Overall, this was a fun, entertaining b-horror flick to sit down and watch for an hour and a half. If you’re into that kind of thing or if you’re a fan of the Critters franchise, give this one a watch and let me know what you think.

The Merc’s Score: 6.5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment