26th August 2019 (Blu-Ray Premiere)
Follows 20-year-old Drea, who reluctantly takes a job babysitting for a professor of a college she hopes to attend. Struggling to entertain the professor's children Trissy and Jake, along with her own little brother Phillip , Drea takes them on a hike, unaware that mysterious alien critters have crash-landed and started devouring every living thing they encounter.
Tashiana Washington, Ava Preston, Jack Fulton
Inspired by the film series from the ’80s and ’90s, Critters follows 20-year-old Drea (Tashiana Washington; 2019’s Shaft), who reluctantly takes a job babysitting for a professor of a college she hopes to attend. Struggling to entertain the professor’s children Trissy (Ava Preston; I’ll Take Your Dead, Shazam!) and Jake (Jack Fulton), along with her own little brother Phillip (Jaeden Noel), Drea takes them on a hike, unaware that mysterious alien critters have crash-landed and started devouring every living thing they encounter.
While being tracked by the ravenous critters, Drea and the kids encounter an adorable, seemingly harmless female critter named Bianca, an exiled royal fleeing the critter race. As the critters converge on the college campus, Drea and the kids, who are now inextricably linked to Bianca, rush to head them off. Will Drea discover her inner badass, and will it be enough to stop the critter onslaught? And is the critter princess as innocent as she seems?
Developed as part of a deal between SyFy and Warner Brothers, this fifth installment in the long-running Critters franchise doesn’t re-invent the wheel, rather turn it into a giant spiky boulder with an insatiable appetite for, well, absolutely everything. The Critters themselves are as bloodthirsty as ever but unfortunately aren’t on screen for as long as I’d have liked.
The decision to mainly use puppets is a good one and keeps the schlocky and low-budget nature the series is known for alive and well. There are a few moments of humour that play on the Critters craftier side (one scene involving bagpipes is a real highlight), but again these are brief and fleeting. Most instances of their attacks are displayed off-screen with a splattering of blood to indicate some unfortunate soul’s demise.
The people of Critters Attack! don’t fare much better. They’re your typical B-movie archetypes, making the stupidest of decisions (the biggest being putting a Critter in a backpack and not being at all worried about the fact it’s definitely not from this planet). Series original Dee Wallace is a welcome addition, putting on her best Sarah Connor or 2018 Laurie Strode impression and along with Tashiana Washington’s Drea firmly putting women at the forefront of the picture as the heroes.
For as long as Stephen Spielberg has been a filmmaker, the Critters franchise has oft been compared with the vastly more successful Gremlins films and Critters Attack! does nothing to argue against the case. In fact, it’s possibly the closest a Critters film has come to being a straight-up copy of Gremlins, with the Princess essentially acting as the Gizmo of the film.
Critters Attack! isn’t going to win over any new fans, nor is it likely to reinvigorate the love of long-time franchise sufferers, but it is a perfectly serviceable midnight TV movie with a handful of scenes to at least make you smile from their ridiculousness.
Critters Attack! is out now on Blu-Ray through Warner Brothers Home Entertainment and can be purchased here
Fleeting moments of humour involving the Critters
Critters are underutilized
Threat feels very contained to the small town