Critters Attack! follows 20-year-old Drea (Tashiana Washington), who reluctantly takes a job babysitting for a professor of a college she hopes to attend. Struggling to entertain the professor’s children Trissy (Ava Preston) and Jake (Jack Fulton), along with her own little brother Phillip (Jaeden Noel), Drea takes them on a hike, unaware that mysterious alien critters have crash-landed and started devouring every living thing they encounter.
Confession: I have only a passing memory of the Critters movies.
I mean, I remember the infamous critter ball sequence’s in all their glory, but the movie’s themselves? Not so much.
I do remember them being campy fun before they inevitably outstayed their welcome though. I mean, they were definitely movies of the ’80s, bringing together all the good and bad connotations of that time period, but they managed to straddle that line of being entertaining and cheesy extremely well.
When I heard that another sequel was being made after a twenty-seven-year absence, I was actually kind of excited. In a world where everyone loves the nostalgia camp factor of Stranger Things, a new Critters movie actually seemed like something that could work, and it also seemed like the perfect movie to emulate the current trend.
It disappoints me to say then, that Critter’s Attack is not only not a good movie, but that it’s not a fun movie either.
Director Bobby Miller (The Cleanse) has somehow made a very unimaginative and low energy movie about little balls of fluff from outer space, and I don’t understand how that happened.
The main problem this movie has is it’s cast of characters, whereas we had the bounty hunters in previous movies giving agency to the plot around the crites, in this movie, we have a team of boring kids who know nothing of the crites invasion. This mean’s that the script has to follow the predictable route of introducing our cast to the crite’s presence, and then following them around as they meander to…something? I’m not so sure even the script knew where this movie was going as it feels like it was made up during filming.
For instance, our main character is told that the crites can’t handle loud noise halfway through the movie, and then she specifically asks one of the other characters to remember this for her? Like the way to defeat the aliens is apparently something she might just casually forget? I try not to be too harsh on certain elements when it comes to watching a film, but the script (written by Scott Lobdell & Domonic Muir) is full on amateur hour, offering no surprises, or laughs.
The cast is predictably of TV movie-level quality, with no one really getting a chance (or reason) to shine. As a main character, Tashiana Washington does well at first, giving a relatively low-key performance. As the movie moves on, however, neither the script or her, seem capable of bringing the character to another level.
A big deal was made in the marketing of having Dee Wallance back in the franchise, but she has what at best can be described as a glorified cameo here. Her character “Aunt Dee” disappears for huge chunks of the movie, and really doesn’t get to do much of anything, outside of shooting a couple of crites with a big gun. Had the movie focused more on her being an gun toting, old lady bounty hunter, the movie might have been more amusing.
If there’s anything to praise in this movie, it’s the use of practical effects. As a TV movie, I can’t say I was expecting much, but the team here certainly seemed to do all they could with the budget they had. The movie is at it’s best when it’s following the little crites tumblewheeding their way across the place, and while the critter ball is a much smaller scene this time around, it still impresses considering what they had to work with.
I also appreciated the attempts to individualize the crites a little, making them feel more like separate characters.
Overall, it saddens me to say that Critter’s Attack! doesn’t embrace the campy fun of the previous movies, and instead somehow manages to turn it’s space tumbleweeds into unimaginative and boring villains.
Wasting the return of Dee Wallace to instead focus on boring teenagers, Critter’s Attack feels a lot longer than it’s 90-minute running time. The new movie flounders in its chance to be a part of the new wave of 80’s nostalgia, and sadly instead delivers the plot of a standard TV movie.
3 out of 10
Critter’s Attack! stars Dee Wallace (Critters), Tashiana Washington, Jaeden Noel (Killjoys), Jack Fulton (Shadowhunters), and Ava Preston.
The movie is available to stream on VOD from July 23, 2019.