Back in 1984, Gremlins became a box office hit in theaters, making little teethy monsters a trend in Horror. Riding on the film’s coattails, a year later Ghoulies wrecked their own havoc, but then in 1986, perhaps the most vicious of little creatures to nosh through the silver screen, was Critters.
Malevolent, carnivorous aliens from outer space, technically known as Crites, these small furry animal-like beings had the ability to roll into balls while showing off large mouths and many sharp teeth on their way to devouring victims. A recipe for bloodshed and carnage, the Crites became a hit among Horror/Sci-Fi fans, thus spawning a series of Critters films, including the direct sequel, 1988’s Critters 2: The Main Course, along with 1991’s Critters 3 and 1992’s Critters 4.
Now twenty years removed from the last Critters, with a bushel of ’80s film revivals happening in the form of TV series – from Ash vs Evil Dead to Cobra Kai, and the most recently announced plans for a Creepshow series – the Crites have been circling Earth’s orbit wondering when it was going to be their turn! Well, fear not, our ravenous little friends, Horror streaming service Shudder answer the call with the brand-new original series Critters: A New Binge.
Premiering back on March 21, 2019, the series is directed and co-written by Jordan Rubin, a filmmaker known for his other creature feature 2014’s Zombeavers. Broken into eight short episodes, none exceeding 11-minutes in length, it is an interesting approach considering most TV series nowadays range between 40-60 minutes an episode. Instead, the first season of Critters: A New Binge plays more like a feature film as a whole, only sliced into 8 to 11-minute clips. That said, it is quite easy to breeze through the entire first season in one sitting, hence the title’s double meaning of ‘a new binge.’
Taking place in modern times, the story follows Christopher (Joey Morgan: Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse 2015, Camp Manna 2018), an awkward teenager with a big appetite. On the whole a good dude, Christopher faces the struggles most his age do – feeling out of place, getting picked on at school, and of course, battling extreme shyness around girls. Living with his mom Veronica (Kirsten Robek: The Edge of Seventeen 2016, ReBoot: The Guardian Code series), who he feels little connection with, and his strange uncle (Gilbert Gottfried: Problem Child 1990, Aladdin 1992), the only comfort Christopher finds is in his only friend, Charlie (Bzhaun Rhoden: Van Helsing series, Dragged Across Concrete 2018).
Sort of outcasts in high school, the two friends seek to find their way, and also hopefully get Christopher connected with his mega crush, Dana (Stephi Chin-Salvo: iZombie series, ReBoot: The Guardian Code series). Although, as if Christopher did not already have enough problems, he soon finds out there is much more to him than his mom has ever lead on.
On top of it all, the Crites are back on Earth looking to bring home one of their own who was left behind nearly two decades earlier. Given specific ‘no eating’ orders from Crite’s president in order to complete the mission, it soon becomes clear self-control is not the manic creatures’ strong suit… so you can only guess what happens!
Feeling fresh and fun, the approach for Critters: A New Binge works quite well, bringing the story of Critters into the 21st century. Recapturing the humorous nature of the Crites themselves, perhaps the most comical parts of it all is when they communicate amongst one another as subtitles reveal exactly what they are saying.
Then there are the main characters, consisting of Christopher, Charlie, Dana, and Veronica; all of whom fit well into the script as individuals you can’t help but like. Additionally, there are those beloved shape-shifting bounty hunters: this time portrayed primarily by Christian Sloan (Warcraft: The Beginning 2016, Star Trek Beyond 2016), Toby Levins (Rogue series, The 100 series), and Tom Pickett (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief 2010, Supernatural series). Each actor involved doing a decent job with their role, though, in truth, all fans know the best bounty hunter in the history of Critters has to be Terrence Mann (Critters series, Sense8 series) as Ug. Hint hint, Shudder, bring him back!
All factors considered, Shudder’s Critters: A New Binge is a great addition to the Critters franchise, and with the way season 1 ends, one can only hope there is a second season lined up. A quality revival full of good laughs, Cryptic Rock gives Critters: A New Binge 4 out 5 stars.