Tremors: Shrieker Island follows a ragtag group led by the famous graboid hunter, Burt Gummer (Michael Gross), as they try to stop a legion of genetically modified graboids and shriekers unleashed on an island by an egotistical game hunter.
Tremors: Shrieker Island Review
What is there to say about the latest in the Tremors series at this point? I am a massive fan of the first film, the second holds a degree of nostalgia and appreciation, it takes a sharp dip in the third installment, and then the series just stopped taking itself even remotely seriously, accepting its role of cheesy effects, slapstick gags, and one-liners that wouldn't impress a father raised on Die Hard movies. But still, the self-awareness of it all (even the occasional fourth-wall-bending self-deprecating joke) gives it a charm that only managed to fail my superficial expectations once with the fourth installment. And now, seven films deep, Tremors has gone from losing its shine to embracing its rough, matte finish. Does it still hold any entertainment value?
Barely. As much as I love the creature design, the practical effects have been virtually extinct since the 5th film, and they still decreased exponentially after the first installment. The CG is usually more passable than what you see in a traditional SyFy Original, but the latest iterations of the graboids are hardly recognizable from the originals. The jokes rarely land now, with an outdated machismo that was funny in spurts in the original, but now feels forced and oversaturated. The directing, script, and cinematography all feel uninspired and bland, but one thing the series always has going for it is that everyone on screen looks like they're having fun.
I've loved Richard Brake since Rob Zombie's 31. He was by far the most redeemable and enjoyable part of that movie with his sadistic monologues. Unfortunately, he just isn't the same without that morbid and quippy dialogue, and feels like an afterthought as the antagonist of Tremors 7. But the Tremors franchise has never been about having human villains as the monsters are enough to retain our attention. And while we get plenty of monster mayhem in this film, it feels like more of the same that we've gotten since the 5th installment...just recycled shots of exploding earth, twisting worms with warping maws, and bulky CG beasts that seem to be getting worse and worse.
Again...I love Tremors...and I even have a level of respect for the franchise still chugging along. It feels like a passion project that refuses to die, and that has a quality associated with it that I admire. But it's definitely getting to the point that I'm watching these films out of some level of obligation, like visiting a relative you don't care for simply because they're family. The fun has been fading for some time.
I hate to type those words, especially with how this film ends. The sentimentality of it all honestly made the whole film worth it. Again, it felt like watching a passion project get completed and the thanks highlight reel plays during the credits...And you're reminded that this franchise has always been about having fun. It's not trying to impress you with...well...anything at this point. It's just trying to give you a meaningless good time every couple of years, maybe even while you're ironing some shirts or working on a project. What makes the Tremors franchise special isn't the quality (that admittedly disappeared long ago) it's the heart put into it. And this one at least reminded me of that.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 5/10
Film Quality: 3/10