It is said that everything is cyclical: fashion, music, and movies, what once was, will be again. Certainly the case in the world of Horror/Sci-Fi cinema, you do not need to look much further than the scorching hot popularity of retro-styled Netflix series Stranger Things or the plethora of 80s’ Horror flick remakes over the past year, including Pet Sematary and Child’s Play. Then there is eternal Critters film franchise which debuted in 1986, continuing through 1992 with three more installments, and now finds new life in 2019 with the forthcoming Critters Attack!, set for release set for release on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital on July 23 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment prior to premiering on SYFY later this year.
The result of Syfy Channel acquiring the broadcasting rights to the Critters franchise in order to produce new sequels, Critters Attack! marks the first of those made-for-television sequels. Not at all to be confused with the other recent Critters off-shoot, Shudder’s web television series Critters: A New Binge, Critters Attack! is a full-length feature.
Hiring Bobby Miller (The Movie Show series, The Cleanse 2016) to direct a script written by veteran Writer Scott Lobdell (X-Men: The Animated Series, Happy Death Day 2017), the new installment in the Critters world also features a talented young cast that includes Tashiana Washington (Gimme the Loot 2012, Gimme Shelter 2013), Jaeden Noel (Odd Squad series, Killjoys series), Ava Preston (I’ll Take Your Dead 2018, Shazam! 2019), and Jack Fulton (Detention Adventures series, Shadowhunters series). Adding intrigue to it all, they even bring back Critters alumni, original star Dee Wallace (The Howling 1981, Cujo 1983). So are all these ingredients a recipe for a tasty helping of Critters chow?
First and foremost, it would behoove you have a good grasp of the Critters story before going into watching this new film. That is because it is always good to see an original film prior to any sequel, but also because in the case of Critters Attack!, there is limited backstory provided. It picks up with the furry, ravenous aliens known technically as crites arriving on planet earth, devouring a sushi deliveryman.
A promising start, it soon moves toward following main character Drea (Washington), a twenty-year-old girl eager to get into a particular college. Hoping to finally get an edge, she takes a job babysitting for one of the said college’s professors. Taking along her alien-obsessed brother Phillip (Noel) for the day, they soon head off to babysit Trissy (Preston) and Jake (Fulton), ending up getting into more trouble than anyone bargained for.
This is essentially the bulk of the plot, because from here Drea leads her brother, along with the two kids who look entirely too old for a babysitter, to becoming bad-ass Critter killers. Adding a little twist to it all, the likable group discover a cute little, white-furred female critter they name Bianca; one who seems to be a good guy, or in this case, a good gal. Which leads to the question, where did Bianca come from and how come a female crite was never introduced until now?
Pondering these thoughts, you are also probably wondering where does talented, seasoned Actress Dee Wallace fit into the story? With prior knowledge of Critters, you might think Wallace reprises her role as Helen Brown, the mom of the family originally terrorized by the crites, right? Well, not really, because instead the writers of this new film opt to create a whole new role for Wallace as a bounty hunter. You might then think: alright so Helen Brown decided to join the bounty hunters in an effort to stop the crites, right? Wrong again. They give Wallace a completely different persona, simply known as Aunt Dee. That in mind, Wallace does a wonderful job with her limited screen time, but in all honesty, it leaves you wanting more.
All these factors in mind, is Critters Attack! disappointing? No, not necessarily, because in the end it has plenty of humor, a good amount of action, plus a cast of characters you are rooting for and care about. Concluding rather abruptly at just under 1 hour and 30 minutes, you can only figure additional Critters films are in the works. If this is the case, hopefully Wallace will be offered a larger role, one that provides her a more elaborate backstory. Hint to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment: fans love Dee Wallace and they want to see more.
Only time will tell what happens from here, but if you are looking for a fun Sci-Fi/Horror Comedy flick to kick back and enjoy, Critters Attack! is certainly worth the time. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 3.5 out of 5 stars.