Combustible Celluloid
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With: Michael Gross, Jon Heder, Jackie Cruz, Richard Brake, Caroline Langrishe, Cassie Clare, Bear Williams, Ron Smoorenburg, Boonma Lamphol, Sahajak Boonthanakit
Written by: Brian Brightly, Don Michael Paul
Directed by: Don Michael Paul
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for creature violence, language throughout, some gore and suggestive/drug references
Running Time: 103
Date: 10/20/2020

Tremors: Shrieker Island (2020)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Worm Warfare

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This seventh movie in the Tremors series is interesting mainly due to Burt Gummer and some other likable character turns, but it's a cheap and not particularly inventive sequel with little new to say.

In Tremors: Shrieker Island, a group of professional hunters, led by the maniacal Bill (Richard Brake), offer wealthy tourists the chance to hunt genetically-modified "Graboids," i.e. gigantic, underground-dwelling, man-eating worms. On a nearby nature preserve, scientists Jas (Caroline Langrishe) and Jimmy (Jon Heder) find evidence that something is up and investigate.

There, they discover that one of the Graboids has spawned several deadly "Shriekers," which reproduce rapidly. Jas puts out a call for the legendary Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), who has battled the monsters for 30 years. Joined by weapons expert Freddie (Jackie Cruz) and archer Anna (Cassie Clare), Burt and Jimmy go to war against the beasts. But first they must contend with the insane Bill.

Gross (also known for Family Ties) was a supporting character in the fun original Tremors (1990), but his Burt went on to appear in every other Tremors movie, (with the exception of the fourth, a prequel, in which he played Burt's great-grandfather) and even the 2003 TV series. That's a long history, and he carries it proudly, even if he doesn't really have anything to do in Tremors: Shrieker Island that he hasn't done before.

Heder plays yet another lovable goofball, who charges into the fray despite his perceived cowardice/weaknesses, and Cruz (Orange Is the New Black) plays the kind of tough tomboy you'd want on your side. But director Don Michael Paul delivers a rushed, ill-timed movie that goes on too long and yet feels choppy and truncated.

Two characters of color are left stranded with virtually no dialogue, and whose jobs are simply to obey any orders barked at them. The digital monster FX feel plasticky and dislocated, leaving very few actual scares. But if the main job of Tremors: Shrieker Island is to cement the legacy of Burt Gummer, then it does that job just fine.

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