CRITTERS ATTACK! / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: BOBBY MILLER / SCREENPLAY: SCOTT LOBDELL / STARRING: TASHIANA WASHINGTON, AVA PRESTON, JACK FULTON / RELEASE DATE: 26TH AUGUST
The train of remakes, sequels and revisions trundles on. You can pretty much hear the discussion at the studio executive’s office. “OK, so we’ve done Friday the 13th, Freddy has come and gone, we did Evil Dead, we did Carrie, we’ve just done Chucky, Halloween is doing big numbers again. We even did those piranhas twice! What old horror movie franchise next?” “Uh… how about Critters?” “Let’s do it!” And so we welcome Critters Attack!
In case the 90s were too hard on your brain or you’re too young to remember them, critters are furry aliens that look like big hedgehogs / porcupines. They gave Leonardo DiCaprio his first feature movie role in Critters 3, then they went into space in Critters 4. In Critters Attack!, they’re back terrorising a small town, with Drea (a very game Tashiana Washington) attempting to keep her brother and the kids she’s babysitting alive during the invasion.
Critters Attack! is a movie that knows exactly what it is and plays to that. It doesn’t try to create a dark or gritty tone. It’s about hedgehog aliens and brings a very playful and fun sensibility. It’s a film that revels in its practical puppet effects and over the top blood splatter. Its synth-drenched soundtrack is straight from a direct to video creature feature of the 80s, and it features Dee Wallace, returning as her character from the first Critters, sure to please fans of the original cult movie. It also throws in a new critter into the mix, Bianca, a female and seemingly friendly member of the alien invaders, who is basically Gizmo from Gremlins. The film franchises share a similar tone and a lot of DNA, but Critters Attack! lacks the higher joke rate and bigger comedy ideas that Gremlins brought. As such, it’s unlikely to be remembered. It’s an enjoyable watch (almost a surprisingly entertaining one, considering it’s the fifth entry in a lesser-known franchise coming almost twenty years after the last one), and the cast and crew all throw themselves into it making it what it is.
The extras on this home release are slim but interesting enough. We get three short videos about the film's main draw - the critters and how they’ve been created through practical effects. As usual, everyone is very excited and happy to be working on the film, and it’s interesting to see the practical work that went into getting the critters back onto the screen.
It's doubtful that anyone was asking for a new Critters film, but the one we’ve got is entertaining enough, if completely forgettable. It’s camp, it’s silly, it’s fun, it’s Critters.