Director: Bobby Miller
Script: Scott Lobdel
Cast: Tashiana Washington, Dee Wallace, Jaeden Noel, Jack Fulton, Ava Preston
Running time: 89 minutes
Hoo boy. Where to start?
Let’s take it back to 1986 and the release of the first Critters movie. A low(ish) budget horror comedy put out by New Line Cinema it was very much cashing in on the “tiny monsters cause trouble” genre that Gremlins kicked off. Starring ET’s Dee Wallace, the story revolves around a group of furry little aliens (called Krites), pursued by intergalactic bounty hunters, who crash land in rural Kansas and go on a killing spree. It’s silly, a little bit gory and has gained a cult following over the years. It spawned three sequels of drastically diminishing quality that are more famous for featuring early appearances of now big name actors (hello Leonardo DiCaprio and Angela Bassett!) Fast forward to 2019 and Warner Bros in association with SyFy have just put out a straight to DVD sequel titled Critters Attack! and… well. It’s a thing.
Critters Attack! starts off well enough with the usual tried and tested formula. We have our group of Krites crash land on earth where they promptly begin to chew their way through the citizens of a small American town, reproducing as they go. We also have a group of kids who stumble across another visitor – a white, female Krite who seems much better natured than her vicious brethren. Seeing that she’s injured, they take her in and are subsequently pursued by the evil aliens. All the while, Dee Wallace is back doing some stuff.
Honestly, that’s as good as you’re going to get with the plot on this one. Critters Attack! is a rambling, boring mess of a film with a barely established plot driving the action forwards. Not once are we really told why either group of Krites has come to earth, characters are dropped into the story simply to be used as cannon fodder a scene later, and Dee Wallace is utterly wasted. Not playing her character from the original Critters (or maybe she is? It’s not entirely clear) she spends her handful of scenes bumbling around, chasing the Krites after having sensed their arrival on her high tech alien scanning gear, seemingly knowing more than she lets on.
The main cast of kids are a largely characterless bunch who similarly bumble emotionlessly about from one implausible scenario to another. Whether it be finding a mysterious alien in the forest and taking it in, declining to offer up proof of said aliens existence when the appropriate moment arrives or generally not really behaving like actual kids (for example, the weirdly overprotective babysitter that accompanies them on their adventure), their presence in the film just hammers home how badly scripted the whole affair is.
Bizarrely, Critters Attack! was written by Scott Lobdel who penned the twisty and genuinely fun Happy Death Day and was responsible for bringing Marvel’s Generation X comic book into existence back in the 90’s. He’s a writer who’s always managed to put together exciting scenes with snappy dialogue, so the glacial pace here is uncharacteristic. Director Bobby Miller, meanwhile, is coming off the critical success of his feature debut The Cleanse, and the film itself doesn’t look terrible; it’s nicely shot and certainly feels like the crew went into this knowing what they were doing, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how this feels like such a dull and disjointed effort. Regardless, Critters Attack! is not a fun film to sit through with one possible exception – the creature effects.
There’s a genuine love for the source material at play here with the VFX team creating all the Krites using traditional puppetry and animatronics techniques and the BTS features on the disc show this. The models are detailed and the practical effects give the actors something genuine to work with in the action scenes which, while they don’t necessarily feature any clever or fun deaths, show a craftsmanship that’s missing in the cheap CGI you get in most SyFy originals.
- Engineering Gore; Designing Critters
- Critters: An Out-of-this-World Experience
- The Critter Ball
- Scene Specific Commentary with Director Bobby Miller and Marty Krite
There aren’t a huge amount of bonus features, but what there are show a cast and crew who had a lot of fun making this film, which makes it an even bigger shame that the end product is so poor. Even worse is the inclusion of clips from the original which just showcase the better acting and production values that those films had.
Badly plotted, paced and acted, Critters Attack! is absolutely not recommended.