*. I suppose it might have worked. The original Critters tetralogy had wound up in 1992. So nearly thirty years later you could say it was time for a reset. At least they’d had lots of time to think of what to do next.
*. I call it a reset but more accurately I believe it’s a sequel. I say so because of the presence of Dee Wallace, missing since the first movie but here apparently playing the same character with a different name (she’s just called Aunt Dee) because of some legal issues. I don’t know what those issues might have been, since the Syfy channel had bought the rights to the franchise for what I’m guessing was the price of a bag of footballs in order to see if they could make anything out of it. On the strength of this film I think the answer is that they couldn’t. But knowing the Syfy channel I’m not sure that will stop them from making more anyway.
*. The story is formulaic — the Critters land and terrorize a town, with a sister and brother among those fighting to survive — but it’s also filled with strange notes of sadness. The main character, Drea (Tashiana Washington, escaping from this mess with her pride remarkably intact) is a sushi delivery driver who keeps failing to get into the college her mother went to but had to drop out of to have her. And her mom later died in a car accident. And now Drea’s friend, who did get into college, can only arrange to get Drea a humiliating job babysitting for a professor as a way to get an “in” to the school. You see? That’s just sad.
*. Also sad is the sushi shop’s owner, whose nephew is killed at the beginning. He really seems to miss him. That’s actually sadder than when Drea’s uncle dies. It’s all a bit of a downer.
*. The rest of the movie is more of the same for this franchise. I like the fact that the Critters are still just puppets and there’s no CGI, but on the other hand they don’t look any better than they did thirty years ago. Critter behaviour is further muddled. Now they apparently breed by laying eggs in people’s bodies that burst open Alien-style like popping popcorn. Also, high-pitched sounds like police sirens and air horns cause them to spontaneously explode. Finally, there’s a Queen Critter who is cute and cuddly and who the kids name Bianca. There’s always been a connection made between Critters and the Gremlins franchise, and while the former may not have been a rip off there’s no denying Bianca resemblance to a mogwai. She’s so darn cute! That is, until she gets angry.
*. This is as movie that’s not funny or scary or even interesting. Characters just go from place to place and do whatever they have to do to set up the next scene. Does a park ranger get a bit of bird poop on his cheek? That means he has to take a shower because now he smells bad! Are we escaping from the Critters in a club car? Why run when we can stop into a (conveniently unlocked) storage shed and grab . . . some landscaping tools . . . and kick some Critter ass!
*. Well, the giant Critterball is back from Critters 2 and it gives the movie its one decent (not good) kill. Dee shows up at the end with her great big gun and blows some Critters away. People get splashed with green slime like they’re the cast of some Nickelodeon special. In sum: enjoy that exclamation mark in the title because it’s the only excitement on tap in this total dud.