Leaves Us Hungry For The Next Course
As a lifelong fan of the Critters franchise, even going as far as to say it was my favourite horror series of the 1980s, the news of a brand new movie filled me with equal part joy and dread. Obviously, it was exciting for me to see the Krites return to Earth to cause bloody chaos all over again, but I was also hyper-aware that more often than not modern reboots of old school horrors don’t always find their mark.
Critters Attack! was released on July 13th, 2019, and advance screenings by friends did not come with favourable reviews. Most of them hated it, calling it one of the worst movies they had ever seen. Others described it as being bad “Even for a Critters movie”. But I wanted to know for myself. I’ve seen the Critters movies a thousand times, so there was no way I was going to pass up on this one, even if it really was an abomination.
The movie itself is set in modern-day small-town America. For no obvious reason, the infamous Krites return to Earth for another course of human flesh, after being absent from our screens – and our universe – for nearly 3 decades. This time though, they unwittingly bring with them a benevolent female “Queen Krite” who has made it her mission to put an end to her insubordinate subjects reign of terror.
With the help of some young kids who are scarily desensitized to the ultra-violence going on around them, the Queen – who for reasons unknown is named Bianca – defies her Gizmo-like cuteness to call time on the all-you-can-eat man-sized buffet, and save Earth once and for all.
Now let me be clear. Critters Attack! is not a good movie. But it is lots of fun. It’s like the staff of 1990s Nickelodeon got their hands on the franchise and made their own movie. In fact, if it wasn’t for the blood and occasional swearing it could probably run at tea time and no one would really bat an eyelid.
The acting isn’t horrible, the young cast doesn’t make you want to swallow your own head, and there are enough laughs and surprises to keep you entertained. The real triumph though is the special FX, which have that authentic early-Critters movie feel, especially when the little bastards combine and turn themselves into a huge Temple of Doom-style boulder of teeth, running down anyone that stands in their way and leaving nothing but bones in their wake.
Perhaps most disappointing though is that this is not truly a film for the original fans. Yes, there is the return of original cast member Dee Wallace, but you never actually know if she’s reprising her Helen Brown role from the first film, or if she’s just there for a cheap pop. Her character “Aunty Dee” has an obvious past with the Krites but this is never explained and for anyone new to the franchise it doesn’t make much sense for this older lady to be wandering around calling herself a bounty hunter.
Bounty Hunter’s were a recurring theme of the first 4 movies, and quite honestly were a highlight of the franchise. Why then would you not even mention Ug or Charlie, or have new hunters emerge from the stars to continue the hunt for the intergalactic fugitive monsters? Fans love the lore behind their favourite movies, so to totally abandon it was a foolish move for the filmmakers – let’s hope if there’s a sequel they don’t make the same mistake again.
There will be plenty of old-school fans who turn Critters Attack! off after 10 minutes, but that would be a mistake. It’s a funny little stand-alone horror that reintroduces some of the very nastiest villains from the decade in which horror was truly at its peak. This is not the Critters we grew up with but we’re OK with that. We just hope that this is simply the entrée and the main course will be a much more familiar flavour.
TBG Score: 5/10